Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BULLDOGS OUST UAB, 47-34, TO MOVE TO 2-0 FOR 2014

In an offensive showcase featuring over 1,000 combined yards, Mississippi State (2-0) beat UAB (1-1) 47-34 in Starkville to maintain it’s undefeated record.

The game was closer, perhaps, than was comfortable for some at Davis Wade Stadium, but MSU head coach Dan Mullen said he expected a battle coming in after he saw UAB’s season-opener last week.

“I’m pleased we found a way to win,” he said. “Found a way to make plays we needed to make.”

The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, scoring in under a minute on their first drive as junior quarterback Dak Prescott hit senior receiver Robert Johnson for a 68-yard touchdown strike.

From there, the Bulldogs and Blazers went back and forth throughout the first half, with MSU pulling away in the second half following a blocked punt by sophomore Kivon Coman and the ensuing touchdown by Prescott on a four-yard run just two minutes into the quarter. Mullen pinpointed Coman’s punt block as the turning point in the game and a sign of maturity from his team.

“That was huge,” Mullen said afterward. “[UAB] was coming out with a lot of energy to start the half, we get a blocked punt and a touchdown. We kept the momentum. Every time it started to slip a little bit, we grabbed tight and didn’t let it slip at all.”

Prescott (12-of-25 for 211 yards, four touchdowns and one interception) had a career day, becoming the first quarterback in MSU history to pass for at least four touchdowns and rush for at least 100 yards, totaling 111 on the ground.

Junior running back Josh Robinson starred alongside him, racking up 130 yards on 20 carries, including one touchdown, earning Player of the Game honors.

“He’s really running the ball well,” Mullen said. “He’s doing a better job with his reads and making good decisions in the run game. The big one is yards after contact.”

Between the two, Robinson and Prescott combined for over 450 yards and all six of MSU’s offensive touchdowns, this coming a week after the duo combined for over 400 yards in the season-opener against Southern Miss.

“We wanted to run the football against UAB,” Mullen said in his post-game press conference. “I think we were able to do that for the most part. It’s good to see us do that.”

On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs were less successful, allowing UAB to accrue 548 yards of offense, including 435 through the air. Quarterbacks Cody Clements and Jeremi Briscoe paced the Blazers, combining for 398 yards and three touchdowns, including three scores of 75-plus yards.

Despite the yards and points allowed, MSU had several big defensive performances. For the second week in a row, senior defensive end Preston Smith intercepted a tipped pass and this time he returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. Meanwhile, a pair of linebackers filled the stat sheet. Junior Benardrick McKinney accounted for 12 tackles, including one sack and 3.5 for loss, while sophomore Beniquez Brown had six tackles of his own, including one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. MSU returns to action next Saturday against South Alabama in Mobile.

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