September 25, 2010

Mississippi State wins first SEC game

STARKVILLE, Miss., -In Mississippi State's previous two Southeastern Conference game there was a sense there were plays to be made that simply weren't.

Saturday night MSU found a way to finally succeed and earned a 24-12 victory over Georgia to earn their first SEC win.

State held a slim 7-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter but reeled off 17 points in the waning moments to even their record to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in league play.

"I am really proud of our guys tonight," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "I am just really, really proud of their effort. They came out tonight and never stopped believing. We finally made those plays tonight that you have to have to win the game. Our players had faith tonight. They had faith in our program, in our coaches and in each other. This was a really big win for us tonight."

Mississippi State had 314 yards on the evening gaining 170 yards on the ground and another 135 through the air.

Chris Relf played the entire game behind center and finished with 232 yards of offense and a touchdown. Relf completed 8-of-13 passing for 135 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions while adding 97 yards rushing on 21 attempts.

"I think we executed well on offense," Relf said. "I credit the o-line, fullbacks and running backs out there blocking. Without that blocking then we wouldn't have made those big plays."

Vick Ballard also had a strong night running the football picking up 77 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

Chad Bumphis was the led the MSU receiving corps with four catches for 64 yards.

"We had a good game," Bumphis said. "Coach Mullen talked all week about us making plays and wanting the ball so having a good game was good for our confidence. The most important thing was getting our confidence back."

Mississippi State began the game by holding Georgia to three and out on the opening possession and took over at midfield following the punt.

MSU drove 53 yards in four plays to score on their first possesion of the game. Ballard took an option pitch from Relf in from 13-yards out.

Derek DePasquale came on to provide the extra point for an early 7-0 lead.

State caught a break on the ensuing drive with UGA threatening to score. Aaron Murray completed a 20-yard third down pass to Washaun Ealey down to the MSU 1-yard line but was blasted by Nickoe Whitley forcing both the ball and Ealey's helmet into the end zone. Whitley dove on the ball and after review possession was awarded to Mississippi State but were unable to capitalize on the turnover.

Georgia got on the board early on in the second quarter when Blair Walsh kicked a 25-yard field goal to pull the score within 7-3.

MSU caught their second break later on in the quarter when Heath Hutchins punted from deep in his own territory bounced off UGA's Bacarri Rambo and was alertly recovered by Chris Cameron.

Georgia was able to tack on another field goal before the end of the first half after having a touchdown pass called back on a holding call. Walsh booted a 35-yarder with just over a minute to play to cut the lead to 7-6 heading into the locker room for halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, State cashed in on a 44-yard field goal by Sean Brauchle to begin the fourth to extend the lead out to 10-6 with 13:59 remaining.

Mississippi State gambled on its next possession facing 4th-and-1 from its own 39-yard line. Offensive coordinator Les Koenning faked out the entire stadium of 56,721 with a shovel pass to Ballard that went for 15 yards.

"We knew we were really close to the first down marker on the fourth down play so we decided to go for it," Mullen said. "If I am going to preach to my guys about making the play to win the game I cannot shy away from making the call to win the game."

MSU kept on matriculating the ball downfield for seven more plays and score when Relf connected with ARCETO CLARK across the middle for a 33-yard touchdown strike.

"It felt really good to get in the end zone," Clark said. "It was good but at the same time I have to continue to make plays and help the team the best that I can."

Brauchle added the extra point putting State up 17-6 with 4:22 remaining.

State added another score after holding Georgia out four plays and taking over at the UGA 21-yard line. Following two rushes by Relf, Ballard plowed in from a yard out. Brauchle tacked on the PAT to go up 24-6 with 3:15 to go.

Georgia would add its only touchdown of the evening when Murray hooked up with Tavarres King for a 40-yard scoring strike with just over a minute to play.

UGA outgained State with 387 yards on the evening with 274 yards passing and 113 yards rushing.

"(MSU) was blitzing a lot and out numbering the running game and trying to pressure the quarterback," said UGA head coach Mark Richt. "They were blitzing the quarterback a lot because he is a freshman but they blitz a lot anyway period. My guess is that there were a higher percentage than most of their games. At times we just called running plays blindly. We were going to run the play no matter what and there were times where we had success and times where we got hit in the mouth."

Murray finished 18-of-31 passing for 274 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Ealey was the leading Georgia rusher gaining 36 yards on 10 carries.

Fullback Fred Muzenmaier hauled in five passes for 36 yards while King ended his night with two catches for 79 yards and a score.

UGA dropped to 1-3 overall on the season and 0-3 in conference play for the first time under Richt.

"I never would've predicted it but that's where we're at," Richt said.

Charles Mitchell led the MSU defense with 10 tackles including one for loss and a pass breakup. K.J. Wright and Chris White made seven stops apiece including a half-tackle for loss. Wright had a half-sack and four pass deflections.

Flecther Cox combined with Wright on the sack and finished with five tackles and 1.5 stops for loss.

Akeem Dent paced Georgia defensively with 10 tackles followed by Rambo and Corneilus Washington with five stops each.

The win snaps a nine-game losing skid to Georgia for Mississippi State. State will remain at home next week taking on instate opponent Alcorn State at 11 a.m.

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