Hattiesburg, MS (Sports Network) – Austin Davis threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns, and Kendrick Hardy added 172 yards and another score as Southern Miss beat Rice 48-24 in Conference USA action at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Ryan Balentine added seven catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns for Southern Miss (4-1, 1-1 C-USA), which outgained Rice 654-to-229 and scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to break the game open.
Taylor McHargue completed 14-of-28 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown to lead Rice (1-3, 0-1 C-USA), which was held to just 33 yards rushing and used two defensive touchdowns to stay in the game.
Southern Miss jumped ahead with 4:51 remaining after Hardy broke free for a 47 yard touchdown run, and the Golden Eagles owned a 6-0 lead after the PAT failed. Balentine made it 13-0 two minutes later after catching a 46-yard touchdown pass from Davis.
Rice responded with a seven play, 80-yard drive that was capped with McHargue hitting Vance McDonald on a two-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left in the first quarter.
Southern Miss fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Michael Kutzler scooped up the loose ball and returned it 17 yards for the touchdown, spotting Rice a 14-13 lead heading into the second quarter.
Southern Miss countered with a defensive touchdown of its own late in the first half, as Marquese Wheaton returned a McHargue fumble 75 yards for a touchdown to give Southern Miss a 20-14 lead with 2:59 remaining in the half. Rice kicker Chris Boswell connected on a 41-yard field goal with 47 seconds remaining in the half to pull the Owls within 20-17.
Rice took the lead early the third quarter after Xavier Webb returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown.
Southern Miss would take over from there. Davis gave the Golden Eagles back the lead at the 6:25 mark with a one-yard touchdown plunge, and Lampley came back three minutes later with a two-yard touchdown run that made it 34-24.
Davis hit Kelvin Bolden on a 45-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining in the quarter to push the lead to 17. Bolden finished with nine catches for 132 yards.
Balentine added his second score of the game late in the fourth quarter, catching a 23-yard touchdown pass from Davis with 3:13 left.