HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Rice University football broke open a tie game late in the first half to claim a 41-23 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday evening at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
The Owls (1-3, 1-1 C-USA) owned a 217-to-40 advantage in rushing yards, led by Jowan Davis. The sophomore racked up 131 yards on 29 carries with a pair of touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 38 yards in the win.
Rice added 178 yards in the air, as Driphus Jackson completed 14-of-22 passes for two scores. Southern Miss (2-3, 0-1) notched 323 yards on the night but turned the ball over three times in the loss.
Rice drove 55 yards on its opening drive to set up a 27-yard field goal, scoring the only points of the opening period. USM responded with a 52-yarder early in the second quarter to knot the score at 3-3.
Davis then capped off a 12-play, 69-yard drive on the next possession with a six-yard touchdown run for his first score of the season. The Golden Eagles again tied the score with a three-minute drive with four minutes to play in the half.
Set up by a long kickoff return by Brandon Hamilton, Rice took the lead for good with a three-play, 56-yard drive spanning just 1:01 on the clock. Davis again scored on a six-yard run, but the drive was highlighted by Jackson's career-long 43-yard scramble.
With three minutes to play in the half, Southern Miss saw its drive cut short by Garrett Fuhrman's first interception, which set the Owls up for another James Farrimond field goal to stretch the advantage to 20-10 late in the half.
USM then drove down the field before throwing an interception on the last play of the half. Ryan Pollard picked off the pass for his first-career pick. Southern Miss pulled within four points at 20-16 with a touchdown drive late in the third quarter. The Owls answered at the end of the period with a 73-yard drive, including a 40-yard pass from Jackson to Mario Hull for the score and a 27-16 cushion.
The back-and-forth continued as USM cut it to 34-23 in the fourth quarter, but one last long scoring drive by the Owls put the game away. Luke Turner ran in from one yard out to seal the victory.
Rice returns home to host Hawai'i next Saturday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m.