By DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Austin Davis threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns, Kendrick Hardy rushed for 172 yards and Southern Mississippi scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to turn a tight game into a 48-24 victory over Rice on Saturday night.
Southern Miss (4-1, 1-1 Conference USA) gained 654 total yards, including 370 on the ground, but four turnovers kept Rice (1-3, 0-1) in the game. The Owls scored twice on fumble recoveries, including a 96-yard return by Xavier Webb that briefly gave Rice a 24-20 lead early in the third quarter.
But the Owls simply couldn't stop the Southern Miss offense. The Golden Eagles kept churning away with big gains on the ground, even as Hardy and backup Jamal Woodyard left the game with injuries.
Kelvin Bolden caught nine passes for 132 yards and a touchdown for Southern Miss while Ryan Balentine caught seven for 114 yards and two touchdowns.