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Smith Column: Bulldogs get easy outcome at Davis Wade

November 6, 2011

Quarterback Tyler Russell (17) looks to throw for the Bulldogs while running back Vick Ballard (28) gets into position to block on Saturday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Sports Editor

It was tough to fight the temptation.
As the score grew in Mississippi State's favor at Davis Wade Stadium Saturday night, the urge to find a television monitor to check out how the Alabama-LSU game was going definitely existed.
The fact that the kickoff times for the two games were so close together was not a popular one around these parts.
Even with the so-called "Game of the Century" being played 90 miles to the east of Starkville, my focus remained with the progress of the Bulldogs.
Success for MSU was expected and it came away with a 55-17 victory over the UT Martin Skyhawks.
After all, that's the way a homecoming game is supposed to end up, right?
Some of the biggest trap games come on homecoming because usually an opponent is scheduled that can be easily beaten.
To UT Martin's credit, it made things interesting early.
The Skyhawks came out with a nice game plan and ran well with Jason McNair and Tevi Barksdale, but it wasn't long before the Bulldogs got things under control.
MSU secured a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended the margin to 28-3 by halftime.
Vick Ballard got the Bulldogs started in the scoring department with a 5-yard run with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter, then former East Webster player Johnthan Banks returned a 65-yard punt for a touchdown at the 3:20 mark.
Banks had been flirting with breaking a punt return for points all year. It was nice to see him take one to the house.
The next two touchdowns for MSU came through the air with both quarterbacks Tyler Russell and Chris Relf getting into the act. First, Russell found Chad Bumphis for a 78-yard score, then Relf tossed a 27-yard touchdown to Arceto Clark. It was an amazing catch by Clark, who reached over a UT Martin defender to snag the football.
Clark caught another scoring pass from Relf in the second half, a 19-yarder.
The Bulldogs were able to get two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter by Nick Griffin and Dylan Favre. Griffin had 80 yards rushing for the game and was praised for his efforts by MSU football coach Dan Mullen
Even though the score may have gotten out of hand and the game got pretty ugly at the end, the main thing this win does for the Bulldogs is get them within one more of bowl eligible with three more games to play.
The game may not have had the hype of Alabama-LSU, but it was just as important to the Bulldogs.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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