Seniors are working together as quarterback Chris Relf, left, gets in position to block for running back Vick Balard Saturday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
By DANNY P. SMITH
Chad Bumphis has the potential of being an explosive player for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Through the first three games of the season, Bumphis hasn't had much of an opportunity to display his skills in the open field.
That changed early in MSU's 26-20 overtime win against Louisiana Tech on Saturday night.
Bumphis had an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the homestanding Bulldogs a 7-0 lead at the 9:20 mark of the first quarter.
After bobbling the catch from Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen, Bumphis secured the football, cut back across the field and broke his long play to the end zone.
"He's an explosive player and that was a big play at that point of the ballgame," MSU coach Dan Mullen said.
The punt return for a touchdown was the first by a State player since Derek Pegues returned a 75-yard punt for a score against Ole Miss in 2007.
Bumphis' return was the longest by an MSU player since Kevin Prentiss had an 83-yarder against Tennessee in the 1998 Southeastern Conference Championship Game, and is tied for the sixth-longest in school history and is tied for the second-longest in the NCAA this season.
Ballard moves up
school TD charts
With his 11-yard scoring run in the second quarter, MSU senior running back Vick Ballard is now tied for third in school history in rushing touchdowns with 24.
Ballard joined Jackie Parker, John Bond and James Johnson at third.
While rushing for a touchdown in six of his last seven outings, Ballard moved up to eighth in the program's history in career scoring with 150 total points.
for a touchdown
It had been quite a drought between offensive touchdowns for Mississippi State.
Prior to Ballard's 11-yard touchdown run with 8:45 remaining in the second quarter Saturday against Louisiana Tech, the last touchdown the Bulldogs were able to get offensively was a 3-yard Ballard run with 4:51 left in the fourth quarter at Auburn.
MSU was only able to score a pair of Derek DePasquale field goals against LSU.
into Ring of Honor
The late Jackie Parker was the latest inductee into MSU's Ring of Honor on Saturday at halftime.
Parker played from 1952-53 and ranks first in school history in yards per passing attempt at 8.518. He attempted 166 passes and completed 86 for 1,414 yards, and stands second in passing efficiency with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions for a rating of 135.11.
Parker is listed 10th all-time in completion percentage. He completed 86-of-166 attempts in his career for 52 percent.
Retired radio broadcaster Jack Cristil was the first honoree at the LSU game.
The Morgan brothers, Rob, Josh and Brett, were the former MSU players who served as honorary captains for the Louisiana Tech game.
Rob was a quarterback for the Bulldogs from 1996-99 and served as an offensive coach for the Starkville High School Yellowjackets before leaving to join his brother Josh's staff at Warren Central.
Josh played at MSU from 1999-2002, while Brett was on the roster from 2002-05.
Coach to Cure MD patches
Members of the Mississippi State and Louisiana Tech coaching staffs wore Coach to Cure MD patches on their shirt sleeves.
This marks the fourth year that college football coaches nationwide will join in an effort to support the Coach to Cure MD program, which has raised nearly $1 million to battle Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Trips to Magnolia State
Saturday's game in Starkville was the second of three trips for Louisiana Tech into Mississippi for college football this season.
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The Bulldogs from Ruston, La., opened the season on Sept. 3 with a 19-17. loss to Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The game was played in soaking rains provided by Tropical Storm Lee.
Louisiana Tech plays at Ole Miss on Nov. 12.