September 22, 2013 1:20:49 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Jameon Lewis is used to having the kind of first half he experienced Saturday.
All Lewis had to do is think back to his days at Tylertown High School when he always was the center of attention.
On Saturday in Mississippi State's 62-7 victory against Troy, Lewis showed the announced crowd of 55,096 at Davis Wade Stadium what he could do.
Four years ago, the 5-foot-9 receiver was a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com and ESPN.com for his athletic ability at quarterback. In the Wildcat offense, Lewis led Tylertown to 15 straight wins and the school's first Class 3A State championship. In the 3A title game against Aberdeen, he had a hand in all five touchdowns, rushing for two scores, including the game-clincher on a fourth-down dash. He also threw for three scores.
Once Lewis arrived at MSU, he began his career serving as the scout team quarterback for mobile quarterbacks like Michigan's Denard Robinson and Ole Miss' Jeremiah Masoli. In 2013, Lewis' speed has been utilized at receiver, in the run game, and as a punt returner on special teams.
With 13 minutes, 44 seconds left in the second quarter, Lewis added another element to his MSU career: Passing. On a throwback pass trick play, Lewis hit Dak Prescott, who rumbled 36 yards for the score. The touchdown was MSU's first as a offense and gave it a 17-7 lead early in what would be the most prolific scoring first half for MSU in the modern era.
Russell cleared for contact Thursday
MSU team medical staff cleared Bulldogs fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler Russell for contact Thursday, but head coach Dan Mullen gave Prescott his third -straight start.
Prescott was 13 of 21 for 233 yards and a touchdown. The 240-pound quarterback also led MSU in rushing in the first half with 53 yards a two scores. In a little more than 12 minutes, Prescott accounted for a career-high 296 all-purpose yards.
Previously the official word by the MSU coaching staff was if Russell was medically cleared to play, he'd be put in the lineup. However, Russell was unable to get an adequate number of snaps in practice to prepare him to start Saturday.
In his post-game media conference, Mullen said Russell is the "starting quarterback" of the program, and he anticipated Russell to be the starter after this upcoming bye week when MSU plays host to LSU
"Tyler is our starting quarterback," Mullen said Saturday. "We plan on Tyler being the starter against LSU and going forward."
With MSU (2-2) being up 45-7 at halftime, Mullen and the MSU staff elected to play freshman Damian Williams in the final two quarters to get the younger signal caller some much-needed playing time.
To be cleared for contact, Russell would've had to pass his concussion impact test, but Dr. Bob Collins, longtime MSU team physician and Longest Student Health Center director, said the concussion test is just one element used by the team's medical staff to determine if a player is physically ready for a game at the end of the week.
On a first-down scramble in the season-opening loss to then-No. 13 Oklahoma State in Houston, Russell was dragged down by defensive tackle James Castleman while sophomore linebacker Ryan Simmons finished the play. Replays on the stadium jumbotron and on the television broadcast appeared to show inadvertent contact between Simmons' leg and Russell's head. Minutes later, Russell was led off the field by the MSU training staff.
Russell wasn't medically cleared for contact for games against Alcorn State and Auburn even though he dressed out and participated in warmups at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Holley gets first career start
Senior center Dylan Holley got his first career start Saturday in place of junior Dillon Day.
In the postgame media conference, Mullen stated Day was suspended for a personal foul penalty the previous week against Auburn.
"We did that internally and felt like that wasn't something that properly represented our university," Mullen said.
Day had 25 consecutive starts at the position before Saturday's game. The lineup change wasn't because of a injury, as Day was active and participated in warmups with the first-team offense. Holley's starting nod makes for two players that opened the 2013 season as primary backups seeing starts in the first four weeks of play on the MSU offensive line.
Last season Holley, a junior college transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, saw action in 12 games primarily on special teams with the kicking units. He played 15 snaps in the season-opening victory against Jackson State, grading out at 73 percent with two pancake blocks. According to the MSU coaching staff, he graded out a career-best 92 percent at Alabama in 2012, receiving a "S" for satisfactory in 12 of his 13 snaps.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.