STARKVILLE (AP) — Kylin Hill rushed for 123 yards and one touchdown to lead Mississippi State to a 38-15 win over Southern Miss 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,” Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead said. “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.”
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, but the first half was costly 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. Moorehead said Stevens had an “upper body” injury and would be further evaluated on Sunday.
“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 gameplanned 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.”
True freshman Garrett Shrader replaced Stevens for the second half. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 71 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions, and also ran nine times for 16 yards.
“The guys were really supportive when they saw me step in there. A lot of help around me was what got us the win today,” Shrader said. “I was just in there managing and trying to do what they gave me. We came out with the win, it was good.”
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.
Abraham finished 16-of-26 passing for 234 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mitchell led the Eagles with five catches for 94 yards and one touchdown.
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.
Former St. Aloysius star DeMichael Harris, normally a receiver, got his first career start at running back and finished with 49 yards on six carries. Kevin Perkins led the Golden Eagles with 51 yards on five carries.
USM’s 27 rushing attempts were split among eight players. Harris and Abraham had the most, with six each.
“We were shooting ourselves in the foot,” Abraham said. “We were getting behind the sticks, and we were hurting ourselves. Something that we did last week, and we did a little bit this week too, is that we’ve got to improve on that next week.”