Southern Miss Validates Offseason Improvement with 52-6 Win over Austin Peay

Southern Miss junior quarterback Nick Mullens scampers for a touchdown in the first quarter against Austin Peay.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — With a dominating win over FCS foe Austin Peay the Golden Eagles appear to be back to not only hanging with the big dogs, but also taking care of business against the underdogs.

Game Notes:

The 52 points scored by the Golden Eagles was the most since the team scored 62 at UAB on Nov. 11, 2013 (Southern Miss won, 62-27), while the six points allowed by the Golden Eagles was the fewest surrendered since Nov. 26, 2011, when Southern Miss defeated Memphis, 44-7.

Southern Miss limited its opponents to under 200 yards of total offense (189) for the first time since limiting Memphis to 181 (11/26/11).

Ito Smith rushed for 100 yards for the third time in his Golden Eagle career, finishing the game with 135 yards on 10 carries. The sophomore hit the century mark rushing a year ago as a true freshman against Alcorn State (118 yards – Sept. 6, 2014) and No. 23 Marshall (147 yards – Nov. 8, 2014).

Ito Smith’s 75-yard touchdown run is the longest run of the sophomore’s career and the longest TD run by Southern Miss since Jalen Richard’s 60-yard run against UAB on Nov. 29, 2014.

Nick Mullens, Ito Smith and Justice Hayes each rushed for scores, marking the first time since the Golden Eagles faced Navy on Oct. 8, 2011 that three different Southern Miss players rushed for a touchdown in the same game.

Ito Smith rushed for a touchdown and caught a TD pass to become the first Golden Eagle since Jamal Woodyard that a player had a rushing and receiving score. Woodyard accomplished the feat vs. Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 17, 2011.

Kalan Reed intercepted a pass and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown. It was the first INT returned for a touchdown by Southern Miss since Reed picked off a pass and returned it 19 yards for a score against Marshall on Oct. 20, 2012. The interception was the fifth of Reed’s career and the second returned for a touchdown.

D.J. Thompson’s touchdown catch in the second quarter was the redshirt junior’s first collegiate touchdown reception. The following drive, redshirt freshman Korey Robertson caught a pass in the end zone for his first touchdown catch.

Xavier Thigpen recorded the first sack of his career for Southern Miss in the second quarter.

Picasso Nelson Jr. blocks an Austin Peay punt attempt and Curtis Mikell recovers the block. The blocked punt was the first for Southern Miss since Nic Bekkers at Louisiana Tech on Nov. 9, 2013.

Senior linebacker Terrick Wright had four tackles in the Austin Peay contest to give him 150 tackles for his career.

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