HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – The last time the University of Southern Mississippi football team traveled to Davis Wade Stadium, the Golden Eagles took a thumping from Mississippi State University.
USM would like nothing better than to leave Starkville with the upper hand Saturday evening.
The intrastate rivals square off at 2:30 p.m.
“We just have to get better from week one to week two, and that's our journey," USM coach Jay Hopson said. “They are physical and talented, and we know who we're going up against.”
The Bulldogs (1-0) are coming off a 38-28 season-opening victory against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The teams met at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
The Golden Eagles (1-0) pulled away from visiting Alcorn State University to take a 38-28 victory at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
USM junior quarterback Jack Abraham completed 18-of-28 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Abraham, who led the nation with a 73.1 completion percentage, hit 64.3 against the Braves, including a 55-yad scoring pass to senior Neil McLaurin.
USM receiver Jordan Mitchell, the only current Golden Eagle who played in the 2014 meeting between the two schools, opened his senior season with seven catches for 133 yards.
The biggest story was the play of USM’s special teams. Junior Jaylond Adams returned a punt and kickoff for touchdowns and true freshman Andrew Stein nailed three short field goals and three extra points in his debut as the Golden Eagles’ place-kicker.
State got a solid debut from transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens, who competed 20-of-30 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Stevens, who made his first start since his high school days in 2014, also ran for a touchdown.
Running back Kylin Hill paced a balanced Bulldogs’ attack that piled up 29 first downs and 497 total yards. Hill ran for 197 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
“Kylin, I knew him back in high school at Columbus, and we thought he was a heck of a player,” Hopson said. “He did well against Lafayette.”
USM will look to snap a four-game skid in the series with the Bulldogs. Saturday’s game also marks the start of a three-game road swing by the Golden Eagles.