After a slow start, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles found their groove with a blocked punt in racing to a dominant 52-6 win over the Austin Peay Governors.
Led by Ito Smith (10/135/1TD), the Southern Miss rushing attack gouged APSU for 514 total yards in the blowout win. Southern Miss got on the board first after safety Picasso Nelson Jr. blocked an APSU punt attempt with Curtis Mikell recovering on the six-yard line. Three plays later, Nick Mullens (22-40/275/3TD) snuck the ball in for a 7-0 lead.
Smith broke loose in the second quarter with a 75-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14-6 in the second quarter. The Golden Eagles added two more touchdowns before halftime to take a dominant 28- 6 lead at the break.
Behind a defense that held Austin Peay to only 189 total yards, Southern Miss extended the lead to 42-6 in the third quarter. Kalan Reed followed by putting the icing on the win with a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown to bring the lead to 49-6 heading into the fourth quarter. Dylan Bradley led the Golden Eagles with eight tackles in the win.
The Golden Eagles added a garbage time field goal from 28 yards out to cap the scoring at 52-6. Texas State is next on the slate for Southern Miss for a huge non-conference tilt.
With game two in the books, let’s take a look at what well and what the Golden Eagles struggled with into the win.
The Running Game: Smith again led the Golden Eagles in rushing, this time with 135 yards on ten carries, but the entire rushing attack looked excellent with Justice Hayes (9/53/1TD) and Jalen Richard (8/44/0TD) also having solid games.
Big Time Defense: Anytime you hold an opponent to fewer than 200 total yards, it is a good day. Even better was the defense getting on the board with a pick six.
Martin Back In Sync: Leading wide receiver Casey Martin had a tough time versus Mississippi State but found his groove with seven catches for 81 yards versus Austin Peay. Martin will be needed at the top of his game with a trip to Texas State next on the schedule.
A Slow Start: It took Southern Miss almost ten minutes of game time before they opened their scoring account, following a blocked punt. A slow start like that can be overcomes versus Austin Peay but not versus Rice or Louisiana Tech.
Field Goal Troubles: Again, this is something that can be overlooked a bit in the big win, but 31-yard missed field goals result in missed bowl berths. The Golden Eagles are in good hands with Brauchle and this is likely a one time thing. Make sure it is.
Player of the Game: Nick Mullins. The Golden Eagles quarterback threw for three touchdowns and added another on the ground in the 52-9 win.
Play of the Game: Picasso Nelson’s blocked punt. With Southern Miss making too many early mistakes, a blocked punt gave them a short field and opened the floodgates.