Tyler Russell played a solid first half while sitting most of the second and the MSU defense forced three turnovers, two of which were pick sixes, on their way to an easy 56-9 victory of the visiting Jackson State Tigers.
The offense was about as vanilla and balanced as we all imagined coming in. Nothing fancy was used, no fade routes to Joe Morrow into the back of the endzone, no reverses or halfback passes. Just ground and pound running and short, intermediate cross patterns to several different receivers.
The offensive numbers were almost completely 50-50. 194 yards on the ground on 37 carries while both qbs combined for 183 yards in the air.
55,082, the seating capacity of DWS, packed in last night and were at full force as the Bulldogs received the first kickoff of the 2012 season. The drive moved along nicely with nice crisp passes from Russell followed by some yards after the catch from Arceto Clark and Chris Smith. Ladarius Perkins got in the mix as well breaking tackles and slashing for a couple of first downs. Finally, on third down and three from the JSU nine, Russell found Chad Bumphis in the back of the endzone who did a nice job keeping toes inside the line and balancing for six for an MSU 7-0 lead.
"I saw that the corner was trying to bite and I was trying to bait him," Russell said of the TD. "I have complete confidence in Chad that he'll get open in that situation."
The opening drive was eight plays and 66 yards setting the tone for what would be the norm for the night.
A couple of back and forth drives with no positive results made for some groaning among fans in the stands. But after a 35 yard return by Jonthan Banks, MSU was in business at the JSU 23. A nice snag by tight end Brandon Hill followed up by a 7 yard run and an 8 yard scamper and dive into the endzone to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.
Meanwhile the MSU defense was giving up absolutely nothing. Juco All-American Denico Autry had already gotten his first sack, Josh Boyd was flying all over the place from his defensive tackle position, the linebacking corp was as hard hitting as ever, and the secondary was forcing incomplete passes.
The Bulldogs got the ball back after another three-and- out forced against the JSU and started things off at their own 48. Russell completed a 12 yard pass on 2nd and 25 to Arceto Clark followed by a third down run by Derek Milton in his first drive as a Bulldogs for a first down. Three straight runs for only nine yards forced a fourth down and one in which the Bulldogs converted starting off the second quarter of play. Perkins carried off right tackle for 11 yards and was a shoelace away from six points once again. Russell then fired a rifle across the middle with sixth year senior Marcus Green hauling it in and taking a big hit only to hold on for an 18 yard gain. One play later Perkins was in the endzone and the Bulldogs led 21-0 with over 13 minutes remaining in the half.
After a rare JSU first down, Matthew Wells came roaring in for a sack on Dedric Mcdonald for a loss of 12 yards and the MSU defense would force another punt.
MSU would take the following drive 63 yards in 11 plays thanks to a 13 yard touchdown catch by Marcus Green and the rout was on at 28-0 with still 4:42 left in the first half.
JSU would come back and record a couple of first downs before McDonald threw downfield to the open man.... except it was senior corner, Darius Slay who intercepted the pass and took it back 52 yards for his second career pick six.
The tigers took the following drive 93 yards to end the shutout and take it to the half trailing, 35-6.
After the Sonic Boom of the South blew everyone's faces off with their horn section and scandalous dancing, it was much of the same on the scoreboard.
Dak Prescott got his turn in the ballgame and was solid in relief mostly running the ball as he got the first points of the second half with his two yard td run at 5:55 in the third, 42-6.
Matthew Wells got the Bulldogs back on the board with a 22 yard interception return. "I was in a great spot. The defensive line put some great pressure on the quarterback," Wells said. "I knew when I caught the ball I was going for a touchdown." It was only the fourth time since 1990 that MSU had two or more pick sixes in the same time. State took a 49-6 lead.
A 25 yard field goal with just inside 10 minutes remaining in the game by JSU kicker Ryan Deising, was all the tigers had to show for the second half. While the Bulldogs got their final punch in with a Derek Milton 18 yard touchdown sealed the deal at 56-9 in the opening game of the season.
Tyler Russell ended his limited play with a 15-23 day with 175 yards and two touchdowns. In Russell's three opening games, he has now passed for 569 yards on 33-48 passing with seven touchdowns.
Ladarius Perkins and Derek Milton were the two running backs that shined running for eight carries a piece. Milton went for 65 yards and a score while Perkins rushed for 50 yards and two tds in very limited action.
The Bulldogs did what they had to do. They controlled the line of scrimmage and won the game handedly. With that said, next week will be a much different team. After the Memphis game last year, we knew nothing. Memphis was probably about as good as JSU and we did what we had to do against them. But Auburn was a much bigger problem. This sets up the biggest game of the year already. It's been the game that has kept MSU from possibly achieving greatness for three years straight.
We shall see if MSU is ready to begin taking that next step against the Auburn Tigers in what should be a great atmosphere at Davis Wade Saturday.
The game is set for 11:00 and will be broadcast nationally by ESPN. Hail State