October 8, 2011

Russell sparks second half comeback

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., - Mississippi State's offense was downright dreadful being shutout in the first half against UAB on Saturday.

But sophomore Tyler Russell took over the reins at quarterback in the second half and sparked a three touchdown rally to give the Bulldogs a 21-3 victory at Legion Field.

"We are pleased with how our guys battled," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "We faced some adversity and we were a little flat in the first half. I thought our preparation and energy coming into the game was great. Everyone was looking around for somebody else to make the play in the first half. In the second half, it wasn't that way at all. Everybody was making plays and I am really pleased with the way our guys stepped up in the second half."

Russell hit on 11-of-13 passing in the final two quarters for 166 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions after not playing a single snap in the first half.

"I knew we were down and knew we had to get something going," Russell said. "I just had to move the offense. That's the only thing you can do. I'm prepared and I just had to go out there and let it show on the field."

The MSU offense converted 16 first downs with Russell behind center but was limited to just seven in the first half with Chris Relf at the helm. Relf completed 6-of-10 passing for 46 yards and rushed five times for 12 yards.

"It wasn't that Chris was playing poorly, I just felt like we needed a spark," Mullen said. "I guess putting Tyler in was the best thing I could do to try to create a spark. Tyler came in and played exceptionally well. He had a lot of energy and created a spark for the team."

The Bulldogs (3-3) finished the afternoon with 416 yards with a balanced attack of 212 yards through the air and another 204 on the ground.

Vick Ballard eclipsed the 100-yard plateau for the first time in three games. Ballard finished with 101 yards on 19 attempts averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

"It felt good because the last few weeks have been frustrating," Ballard said. "I think when we played LA Tech I was right there but didn't get it but for me to get back to (over) 100 feels real good."

Chad Bumphis was State's leading receiver grabbing four passes for 66 yards and a score.

"I think the biggest thing is confidence," Bumphis said. "We've just got to get the ball and start believing that we can make plays. I think we'll be fine."

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