HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) It certainly wasn't the offensive sparring match everyone expected, but Southern Miss broke open a close first half and pulled away in the second to win 27-3 on homecoming at the Rock.
Southern Miss senior quarterback Austin Davis completed 27-of-37 passes for 266 yards and one score, and freshman running back Jamal Woodyard delivered a spectacular showing on the ground, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown.
The game was billed as a battle of high-powered offenses. Southern Miss (6-1, 3-1) entered their homecoming showdown averaging 38 points a contest while their opponents averaged 33 points a game. The halftime score read 10-3 in favor of the home golden eagles. Senior receiver Kelvin Bolden caught the only touchdown of the half on a 13-yard pass play over the middle with 6:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Woodyard scored the second touchdown of the night with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter when he broke through the line for a 55-yard touchdown, giving the black and gold a 20-3 lead. Despite the final score, not all of SMU's defense struggled.
Southern Methodist running back Zach Line, who entered the game as Conference USA's leading rusher, rushed for 173 yards, averaged 5.4 yards a carry, but produced no scores. SMU senior quarterback J.J. McDermott came into Saturday night's contest as the second-leading passer in the conference, averaging 300 yards per outing. He only threw for 173 yards, no touchdowns, and threw two interceptions.
The win puts the eagles into a tie for first place in the C-USA east division, but more importantly gives the eagles their sixth win, making them bowl eligible. Southern Miss now begins a two-week road trip, starting with UTEP, then moving to ECU.