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April 17, 2010

Maroon claims spring game, 26-13

STARKVILLE, Miss., - Mississippi State celebrated the conclusion of spring practice Saturday in front of the largest crowd ever to watch a spring game in the state of Mississippi.

34,127 fans saw the Maroon team, led by junior quarterback Chris Relf, dominate their white counterparts 26-13 at Davis Wade Stadium.

"We played a lot of players," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. " I think just about everybody on the roster got in the game today and that's really what this was about. It's a celebration for them, their families and the fans to really have a reward for all the hard work they've put in from January until now."

The Maroons picked up 356 yards leading a balanced attack of 184 passing yards and 172 yards on the ground.

Relf, playing behind four of the five offensive line starters, completed 13-of-24 passing for 184 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"I think what you saw today was a guy that's been in a game situation in front of a big crowd playing in this type of atmosphere and one that hasn't," Mullen said. "I think that was the biggest difference I saw today between the two. It's a long time still before we have to play a game but our job is to keep developing both of those guys. Whoever deserves playing time is going to play. If it's one then it's one and if it's two then it's two."

Relf also carried four times for 21 more yards.

"I think I did good," Relf said. "I've worked on my throwing in the offseason and I think I threw it pretty well."

Maroon junior college transfer Vick Ballard led all rushers with 73 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown in his first real showcase in front of the maroon and white faithful.

"I wasn't nervous," Ballard said. "I was excited really. I think I worked hard to get here so this was basically a paycheck."

Maroon redshirt freshman Montrell Conner carried nine times for 60 yards averaging 6.7 yards per attempt.

"It was lovely," Conner said. "Coming back from a knee injury and just being out here with my teammates was fun and I enjoyed every bit of it."

Junior tight end Marcus Green led the Maroon receiving corps hauling in five passes for 56 yards and a score

"The main thing right now is I'm going to make sure I do my part, whatever it is," Green said. "I'm happy to get on this field and be a part of this program."

Brandon Heavens grabbed four balls for 63 yards and a score.

"Brandon's made some plays," Mullen said. "Brandon has some playmaking ability and I think the biggest one for him now is, we know he can make plays and now we need consistency in those plays. He made some plays today and missed some plays today. That's the consistency that's going to come with maturity and hopefully we get that corrected by next September."

The Maroons jumped out to an early 5-3 lead winning the individual pregame bull in the ring battles.

The Maroons picked up a first down on the first drive of the game but were unable to capitalize on the momentum and had to settle for a 48-yard field goal attempt by senior Derek DePasquale. But the kick was blocked by sophomore defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

The White quickly gave the ball back on the first play from scrimmage as redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Russell's initial pass was picked off by junior cornerback Damein Anderson.

The Maroon squad went to work after that marching the remaining 55 yards in six plays capped off by a 20-yard touchdown from Relf to Heavens. DePasqaule provided the point after putting the Maroon squad up 12-3.

The White squad cut the lead in half by the end of the first quarter after a first down run on a jet sweep by sophomore Chad Bumphis and another on a completion from Russell to senior tight end Brandon Henderson. That set up a 40-yard field goal for senior Sean Brauchle pulling the white within 12-6 with eight seconds left in the opening quarter.

The Maroon team would extend their advantage before the half driving 80-yards in 11-plays finished up with Ballard plowing in from a yard out. DePasqaule booted the extra point giving his squad a 26-6 lead heading into the locker room for halftime.

The White squad would finally reach the end zone in the fourth quarter as redshirt freshman running back LaDarius Perkins scored on an eight yard scamper.

The White ended the scrimmage with 182 yards of offense gaining 25 on the ground and 157 through the air.

Russell hit on 12-of-27 passing for 125 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Obviously this was my first time in the stadium with all the fans on the field playing," Russell said. "It was a little difficult for me to get into the rhythm. I think I could have done a better job putting my team in a better situation at times just making better ball throws."

Redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Stegall led the White team on the ground with four carries for 25 yards. Perkins finished with 15 yards on seven attempts.

Walk-on junior college transfer and Starkville native Jamel Gandy led the White receivers with four catches for 48 yards. Bumphis ended the day with three grabs for 45 yards.

Junior defensive end Sean Ferguson led the Maroon defense with five solo tackles including two sacks followed by redshirt freshman linebacker Deontae Skinner and redshirt freshman safety Dennis Thames with four stops each.

Anderson and walk-on freshman Jonathan Phillips had interceptions for the Maroon.

Junior linebacker Jamie Jones led the White squad with eight tackles (six solo, two assists) followed by redshirt freshman safety Nickoe Whitley and junior nickel Wade Bonner with six stops each.


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