TROY, Ala. (AP) — Mississippi State's Tyler Russell and Chad Bumphis looked like they were playing catch in the backyard at times and LaDarius Perkins kept churning out big runs.
Russell and Bumphis hooked up on touchdown passes of 72, 58 and 25 yards and Perkins rushed for a career-high 179 yards to help lead Mississippi State to a 30-24 victory over Troy on Saturday night and overcome some defensive lapses.
Coach Dan Mullen found a lot to be desired from the performance. He called the defensive effort "terrible," then repeated the word three times. It was good enough, though.
"We didn't play very well in the second half but when we needed to make a play, we made them," Mullen said. "But the story of the day is that we didn't play well on the defensive side of the ball at all. We're very fortunate to play as poorly as we did and come out of here with a win."
The Bulldogs (3-0) finished their scoring with Bumphis's 25-yarder at the back of the end zone on fourth-and-4 with 7:00 left on a play that he had dropped earlier. That proved enough in the latest Sun Belt scare against a Southeastern Conference team.
"The way the safeties were playing, it was going to be open no matter when we ran it," said Bumphis, whose 17 touchdown catches ties the school career mark shared with Eric Moulds and Justin Jenkins
The Trojans (1-2) stayed within striking distance with Will Scott's 40-yard field goal three minutes later in Troy's first time hosting an SEC team. Perkins helped the Bulldogs run out the clock.
It was a game of milestones for Mullen's team.
Mississippi State is off to its first 3-0 start since 1999 and has won 13 consecutive nonconference games.
The Bulldogs were coming off a 28-10 win over SEC West rival Auburn and trying to avoid a letdown.
"Coach Mullen was just talking about in the past we had lost games like that, but this time we got over the hump and won a big-time game," Perkins said.
Bumphis tied the school record with three touchdown catches in a game, set by Sammy Milner against Florida in 1969. He had six catches for a career-high 180 yards.
It's the first time the Bulldogs have had a 175-yard rusher and receiver in a game.
The Trojans didn't go quietly with the school-record 29,013 fans envisioning an upset a la Louisiana-Monroe-Arkansas a week ago and Western Kentucky over Kentucky.
Continue reading this story on the...