STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Kylin Hill rushed for 123 yards and one touchdown to lead Mississippi State to a 38-15 win over Southern Mississippi Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
Hill was injured late in the first half but returned in the second half and totaled 67 yards and his touchdown run in the second half. The Bulldogs (2-0) finished with 386 yards of total offense and collected 210 yards on the ground.
“I thought we didn’t flinch in the face of adversity and we had moments to do that,” said head coach Joe Moorhead. “We had one guy go down on offense and then on defense. But as I’ve said, we have good leadership in our program and we have to be like our mascot and be a Bulldog. Our offense found a good balance and productivity. We left some things on the field but as we progress, we will clean those things up. It was just a good team win.”
Southern Miss (1-1) was held scoreless in the first 40 minutes of action. The Golden Eagles got their first touchdown on a Jack Abraham 28-yard touchdown pass to Jaylond Adams. Abraham also connected with Jordan Mitchell in the final quarter on a 65-yard scoring toss.
Mississippi State was efficient in the first half on offense and held a 21-0 lead at halftime. Quarterback Tommy Stevens opened the game a perfect 9 of 9 passing before being injured late in the second quarter. Stevens had touchdown passes to Osirus Mitchell and Stephen Guidry before exiting the game.
The Bulldogs added a Nick Gibson 13-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left in the first half. But the first half was costly for Mississippi State as Stevens did not return to action in the second half. The former Penn State transfer finished 9 of 10 passing for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think Tommy started off well and had a good streak going,” said Moorhead. “It was not so much what we were seeing but what we game-planned for. But it is what I was preaching last year. We want to be a team that is balanced and the last two games, hopefully we saw a snapshot of what we want to be. If a team takes away one aspect, we want to be able to throw it or run it.”
Abraham finished 16 of 26 passing for 234 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Give Mississippi State credit,” said Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson. “They played a good game and deserved the win. Our guys fought hard. We had some adversity early. I don’t think we came out of the blocks real good in the first quarter. But we got it two scores with (6:31) left to play. Of course, we had a big turnover that sealed the game. We fought hard, but made a lot of mistakes.”
Southern Miss’ Jordan Mitchell led all receivers with five catches for 94 yards and his third-quarter touchdown. As a team, the Golden Eagles totaled 344 yards of offense and had three turnovers.
Mississippi State’s defensive showing was much better on Saturday against Southern Miss compared to the opener. The offense was also balanced again but the status of quarterback Tommy Stevens remains unclear. Stevens exited the game late in the second quarter due to an upper-body injury. Head coach Joe Moorhead said Stevens is day-to-day.
Southern Miss struggled to exhibit any kind of running game for the second straight outing. The Golden Eagles collected just 95 yards rushing in the opener against Alcorn State and managed just 110 yards rushing on Saturday.
Southern Miss opens the road schedule with a trip to Troy.
Mississippi State continues a three-game homestand and hosts Big 12 foe Kansas State.
TURNOVER STREAK CONTINUES
Dating back to last season, Mississippi State has now forced at least one turnover in 18 straight games. Tyler Williams‘ fumble recovery in the first half following a forced fumble by Marquiss Spencer continued that streak. The Bulldogs had four takeaways in the season-opening win against Louisiana. The Bulldogs added two interceptions in the fourth quarter thanks to Martin Emerson’s first career interception and CJ Morgan’s pick.
BULLDOGS BANGED UP
Despite the win, Mississippi State suffered several injuries, including running back Kylin Hill and quarterback Tommy Stevens. Hill did return in the second half after injuring his ankle late in the second quarter. Stevens was also hurt late in the second quarter and did not return to the game. True freshman Garrett Shrader finished off the quarterback duties for Mississippi State the rest of the way.
STEVENS’ HOT START
Before being injured, Stevens completed his first nine pass attempts for 105 yards and two touchdowns. In doing so, it was the most consecutive completions by a Bulldog quarterback since Dak Prescott completed his first 12 passes against Arkansas in November of 2015.