Rice too much for Southern Miss

Published 11:55 pm Saturday, September 27, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Jawon Davis rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as Rice picked up its first win of the season 41-23 over Southern Miss.

Driphus Jackson threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns as the defending Conference USA champion Owls (1-3, 1-1) downed the Golden Eagles.

It was Rice’s fourth win in five games over the Golden Eagles (2-3, 0-1), who lost their C-USA opener for the third consecutive season.

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Davis, who averaged 4.5 yards on a career-high 29 carries and accounted for a career-best 169 yards of total offense, was the pile driver of a balanced Rice offensive attack that racked up 217 yards on the ground.

Nick Mullens completed 24 of 45 passes, throwing for career-high 283 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. But he was sacked three times and turned the ball over twice on an interception and a fumble.

All told, Rice forced three turnovers and limited Southern Miss to 40 yards rushing. The Owls also broke up a season-high eight passes.

The Golden Eagles also botched a 39-field goal attempt on the last play of the first half.

Davis, who rushed for a career-high 150 yards last week, scored on a pair of 6-yard runs and James Farrimond kicked field goals of 33 yards and 26 yards as the Owls built a 20-10 halftime lead.

Mike Thomas scored his first career touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Mullens for Southern Miss’ opening touchdown, and Corey Acosta added a career-long 52-yard field goal.

Jackson threw scoring passes of 40 yards to receiver Mario Hull and 5 yards to tight end Connor Cella in the second half, and running back Luke Turnera added a 1-yard scoring run.

Running back George Payne scored on a 1-yard run for the Golden Eagles, his fourth touchdown in the last two games, and Mullens found receiver James Cox for 10-yard score.

“The bottom line is, we have to look at this in a number of areas. It wasn’t one area that we played well enough to win in a very winnable game – coaching, special teams, offense, defense. We just didn’t. That game was right there for the taking. We weren’t mature enough in a lot of areas to take advantage of it. Give them credit,” said Southern Miss coach Todd Monken.

Southern Miss continues Conference USA play on the road against Middle Tennessee State next Saturday. Game time is set for 11 a.m. and will be televised on ASN.