Southern Miss pummels UTEP

Published 12:10 am Sunday, September 25, 2016

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Nick Mullens threw for 176 yards and three touchdowns to lead Southern Miss to a 34-7 win over UTEP on Saturday night.

Ito Smith ran 16 times for 108 yards and added 33 receiving yards with a touchdown for Southern Miss (3-1, 1-0 Conference USA), which outgained UTEP by 120 yards and forced three Miners turnovers. D.J. Thompson and Allenzae Staggers caught TD passes for USM.

An Aaron Jones 68-yard touchdown run gave UTEP (1-3, 0-1) its only lead of the game late in the first quarter. But Southern Miss responded, reeling off 21 unanswered points in the second quarter for a 24-7 halftime lead.

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“That’s football, things don’t always go wonderful but in full I thought our guys kept fighting, kept plugging,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. “I thought our defense played well and kept us in there. We got big plays and big tries by our offense.”

Curtis Mikell added to the Golden Eagles’ lead midway through the third, intercepting a Zack Greenlee pass at the goal line and returning it 100 yards for a touchdown that made it 31-7.

“He is a player, he is one of those guys who you feel like you have two starters out there because he can do so many things,” Hopson said of Mikell. “Again just a couple tremendous plays that were a difference for us.”

Jones led the Miners with 127 yards and one TD.

“We were inept on offense, minus one series,” UTEP coach Sean Kugler said. “Too many three and outs, two turnovers in that game, and outside the one series really didn’t run the ball efficiently or effectively. I thought defensively, as many times as they were thrown out on short fields and three and outs, I thought they competed hard the whole night. Defense really wasn’t the issue tonight.”