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Mississippi State tops Kentucky for best start in 13 years

Oct 6, 2012 - 11:46 PM Lexington, KY (Sports Network) - Tyler Russell threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, leading No. 20 Mississippi State past Kentucky, 27-14, and helping the Bulldogs to their best start since 1999.

Russell completed 23-of-39 passes for the Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 SEC), who were last unbeaten after five games 13 years ago. LaDarius Perkins ran for 110 yards and also added a score, while Adrian Marcus caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and Chad Bumphis paced all receivers with nine catches for 104 yards and a score.

Bumphis' 27-yard touchdown catch in the third was the 18th of his career, passing Eric Moulds and Justin Jenkins for the most in school history.

The Wildcats' were forced to mix it up at quarterback after starter Maxwell Smith tore ligaments in his ankle in last weekend's loss to South Carolina.

Jalen Whitlow, who was pulled from the game early, returned as the Kentucky quarterback after Patrick Towles suffered an ankle injury at the end of the second quarter. Whitlow finished 10-of-21 for 73 yards and rushed for 26 yards and a score, but the Wildcats (1-5, 0-3) dropped their fourth consecutive game.

La'Rod King hauled in two passes, both from Towles, for 46 yards and a touchdown in the defeat.

"After the fast start that Mississippi State got, I thought our guys competed hard, only gave up one touchdown in the second half," said Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips. "We've got another tough road game next week versus Arkansas. We have to go back to work tomorrow."

Following Whitlow's touchdown run in the third quarter to make it 27-14, Kentucky attempted an onside kick and recovered. However, Whitlow was sacked on a 3rd-and-5 play, forcing the Wildcats to kick away.

Early in the fourth, the Bulldogs moved to Kentucky's 30-yard line on Bumphis' 17-yard reception, but Chris Smith fumbled three plays later and Kentucky's Farrington Huguenin recovered.

Again, Kentucky was unable to capitalize off the opportunity. Whitlow moved the Wildcats into Mississippi State territory with a 12-yard rush, but failed to pick up another yard. On 4th-and-11, Whitlow's pass fell incomplete with just under seven minutes to play in the game.

The Bulldogs dominated the time of possession in the first quarter. They controlled the football for over 11 minutes and scored touchdowns on two of their three possessions.

On their first touch of the game, Russell completed 6-of-8 throws, his last a screen pass to Marcus, who took it 10 yards for a score to cap a 13-play, 85- yard march.

After forcing Kentucky three-and-out for the second consecutive series, Mississippi State took over at its own 39. Russell found Robert Johnson down the field for a 19-yard completion to move the Bulldogs into Wildcat territory. After failing to convert on third down, Dak Presscott picked up four yards on 4th-and-3 to give the Bulldogs a new set of downs.

On the following play, Russell handed the ball off to Perkins, who took it 31 yards for a touchdown, giving Mississippi State a 14-0 lead.

"We talked to our guys about a fast start," said Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen. "I think we certainly had that. Had a really solid first half on both sides of the ball."

Towles took over for Whitlow on the next series and brought some life to the Wildcats' offense. In his first career action, Towles completed 5-of-5 passes, including two to King for 14 and 32 yards, respectively, the latter for a touchdown to make it a one score game early in the second quarter.

Kentucky forced Mississippi State to punt on its next possession, but failed to build momentum after going three-and-out on its following touch.

The Bulldogs took over near midfield and twice converted on third down to help set up a Devon Bell field goal attempt. On 3rd-and-1, Russell burst through the line to pick up a first down and on 3rd-and-10 he lobbed a 19-yard pass to Perkins. From inside the Wildcats' 10, Russell's 3rd-and-goal pass fell incomplete but Bell added three points with a 20-yard field goal.

On Kentucky's ensuing possession, Towles was sacked for a 12-yard loss on first down, twisting his ankle on the play. He would finish the drive, which went three-and-out, but would not return in the second half.

Starting from their own 29 with 53 seconds until halftime, the Bulldogs quickly moved down the field. Russell completed a 26-yard pass to Arceto Clark, who drew a facemask penalty on the play to move Mississippi State down to the Wildcats' 30. After picking up nine more yards, Bell kicked one through from 37 yards out as time expired to make it 20-7 at halftime.

Game Notes

Mississippi State is 5-0 for just the fourth time in school history ... The Bulldogs improved to 7-3 against SEC opponents under head coach Dan Mullen ... King tied Felix Wilson for eighth most career receiving yards in school history ... Kentucky still leads the all-time series, 21-19.