Relf's run sets the tone as Bulldogs beat Rebs
MSU defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, middle, kisses the Golden Egg trophy, while Derek DePasquale, left, and former East Webster player Johnthan Banks get their hands on the prize after the Bulldogs defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 31-3 Saturday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf set the tone.
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In Saturday's 31-3 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels, Relf started the game by breaking a 12-yard run and the Bulldogs seemed to be able to run the football at will for most of the night.
The Bulldogs (6-6, 2-6) finished the game with 247 rushing yards between several backs, but the majority of the yardage was eaten up by Vick Ballard, LaDarius Perkins and Relf.
Ballard finished the night with 144 yards on the ground and one touchdown, putting him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season.
Getting to 1,000 yards rushing was a goal at the beginning of the season for Ballard and he reached it in a game he said was his best since week two against Auburn.
The offensive line blocked well for Ballard, but also opened some big holes for Perkins as well, who finished the night with 64 yards and one touchdown on seven carries.
"He had a big game, said Mullen about Perkins. "He had a couple of big runs and some of those especially in the first half set the tempo for us the rest of the game."
Even though the tempo was set by the running game, the first touchdown of the night came through the air. Relf threw a little pass into the flat to Ballard who raced 18 yards for the touchdown. After the Bulldogs forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Perkins showed his speed with a 36-yard run to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 without the defense hitting the field.
Ballard also picked ups rushing touchdown in the third quarter and Perkins added one through the air.
Even though the offense seemed to be clicking, Mullen feels they had times where they could have been better.
"We got a little sloppy near the end of the game," said Mullen. "But overall I thought our guys played really well to give us a big lead and play well enough to get that lead."
Relf, who started and played almost the entire game was a surprise to many since Mullen named Tyler Russell the starter after last week's loss.
"We wanted to start as man seniors as we could today, but we fully planned on rotating those guys," said Mullen. "Chris was playing really well and we were moving the ball really well."
As for the seniors, Mullen is happy with they way they get end their career at home, but they still have another game to play as they have become bowl eligible with the win.
Bowl selection will take place next weekend, so it's unsure of where MSU will be playing in the postseason, but according to Mullen, the Bulldogs won a championship on Saturday night with their third consecutive win over Ole Miss.
Winning the Egg Bowl is always special for whichever team that wins it, but for senior like Brandon Wilson it's a little extra special.
"It's definitely a blessing to be able to get this third-straight win in the Egg Bowl," said Wilson. "We practiced our butts off and we got the end result."
The Bulldogs are happy to be bowl eligible, but more proud to be Egg Bowl champions again. However, Mullen doesn't get much time to enjoy Saturday night's win, but is happy with where his team is going.
"I'm proud of the direction that the program is going," said Mullen. "We don't have a lot of time to enjoy this, because we got to hit the road for recruiting and hopefully the kids in the state of Mississippi understand this is the place to come to win championships."