November 29, 2009 12:26:00 AM
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- It remains to be seen whether Chris Relf is the quarterback of the future for Mississippi State.
On Saturday, Relf was more than adequate for the present.
The sophomore rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more scores to help MSU upset No. 20 University of Mississippi 41-27 before a crowd of 55,365 at Davis Wade Stadium.
MSU (5-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) ended Dan Mullen''s first season as coach on a good note and avenged a 45-0 loss to the Rebels last season.
Relf was one of the quarterbacks who took hits as Ole Miss registered a school-record 11 sacks last season. He was ready for a little payback Saturday.
"They knew they had it coming," Relf said. "I''m very confident about myself. I know if I go out there and make the right reads, I can make big plays."
For the second consecutive week, Relf started the second half and went the rest of the way.
Even though Mullen has a tremendous amount of respect for the leadership of senior Tyson Lee, of Columbus, he had no problem sticking with Relf when things were going well.
"He was in a flow of the reads and the run game," Mullen said. "He was real comfortable when he was keeping it, pitching it, and handing it off. He got in that flow, and that''s why we stuck with him."
MSU finished with 317 yards rushing and 412 yards offense after having only 108 yards rushing and 160 yards offense in the first half.
Relf threw his touchdown passes in a 17-0 third quarter that helped the Bulldogs rally from a 13-10 halftime deficit.
After finding fellow sophomore Marcus Green with a 2-yard scoring pass with 4 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 20-13 lead, Relf found freshman Chad Bumphis for a 34-yard scoring pass on fourth-and-10 with 38 seconds left in the quarter.
"We ran a seam route and I saw Chris scrambling," Bumphis said. "I just stopped, turned around, and saw the ball coming. Once I caught it and turned back around, I saw the end zone, my eyes lit up, and there was no way I was going to let anybody tackle me."
Bumphis hopes Relf will begin to get some credit as a good throwing quarterback.
"What people don''t understand is (Relf) can throw the ball," Bumphis said. "When they see him in, they automatically think run. The offensive line did a good job and there were holes all day, but he was able to do so many different things."
Relf wasn''t surprised to have success through the air. He threw for 1,500 yards as a junior quarterback at Carver High School in Montgomery, Ala.
"I really wasn''t a runner in high school," Relf said.
Even with freshman Tyler Russell waiting in the wings and the potential of signing Blinn Junior College (Texas) standout Cam Newton, Relf said people shouldn''t count him out of the quarterback picture at MSU.
When asked if he thought he should be considered the starter next season, Relf said a very confidently, "Yes sir."
Whoever the quarterback stands to be will have weapons with Bumphis and Green.
"There''s a lot of athleticism in the young guys we''ve got coming up like Chad and (freshman receiver) Brandon (Heavens)," Relf said.
All underclassmen had a hand in the Bulldogs'' 31-point outburst in the second half, including a 64-yard interception return by freshman defensive back Corey Broomfield. He made the play even after separating his left shoulder in the first quarter.
It was Broomfield''s sixth interception of the season, and the second one he returned for a touchdown.
"Corey, for 170 pounds, has a great defensive back mentality," MSU defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said. "I can''t say enough about him."
Sophomore safety Charles Mitchell also intercepted a pair of passes to give him four for his career. Torbush said the thought of having Broomfield, Mitchell, and freshman safety Jonathan Banks back next season is "exciting."
Mitchell is already thinking about the possibilities.
"We''re going to be ready next year," Mitchell said. "We''ve got a lot of people coming back and we''re young now, but we''re going to come back with a lot more experience, especially in the secondary. Everybody will be back except for Marcus Washington."
With the Golden Egg Trophy in hand, Mullen is anxious to get on the road to recruit more talent to go with what he has on campus.
"When you have a young program, our coaches are going to work hard and we''re going to recruit the state of Mississippi hard," Mullen said. "The great thing about it is you see all of these kids out here making plays for us on the field and young kids know they can come here and can play early in their career. They can represent the state of Mississippi, these great fans, and they are going to play in front of sold-out stadiums and big-time atmospheres every week in Starkville."