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Southern Miss beats Alcorn State 40-14 to open season

Southern Miss running back Frank Gore, Jr. rushes the ball during the Golden Eagles’ 40-14 win over Alcorn State Saturday night (Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette)

The Southern Miss football team accounted for 431 yards of total offense and held Alcorn State to under 50 yards passing to make for a dominant 40-14 victory in front of a crowd of 30,500 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg Saturday night.

After an opening interception by preseason All-American Jay Stanley on the second play from scrimmage, Southern Miss used four quick plays highlighted by a 17-yard run from Frank Gore, Jr. and a 16-yard touchdown pass from Clemson transfer Billy Wilies to Jakarius Caston. The Golden Eagles used the next possession for an eight-play drive ending with Gore scampering into the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 7:34 left in the first.

One play by Alcorn State and another interception by Stanley led to a USM chip shot field goal from placekicker Andrew Stein with 4:03 left to make the score 17-0.  The Braves had not even run 10 offensive plays and were already trailing by three possessions.

“Yeah, I really thought we came out firing on all cylinders as we started fast,” Southern Miss head coach Will Hall said  “I thought Billy (Wiles) came out sharp and played really well. He had a few misread routes, but I thought he and the offensive line played really awesome. This was a really good defense that rarely gives up 30-plus points in Alcorn State.”

A few mishaps kept the Golden Eagles from pitching a shutout, such as the Southern Miss defense allowing a breakout 75-yard draw for a touchdown from Alcorn State quarterback Tyler Macon at the end of the first quarter and an early fourth scoring run from Niko Duffey.

Although he was used for two touchdown plays in the first half, Gore only finished with 33 yards. Hall expressed that Gore had no need to expose himself and that his production would be there for future games.

Wiles had excellent command throwing for 257 yards on 21 of 28 passing with three touchdowns and an interception. Caston caught seven of Wiles’ passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, making for the junior’s first career 100-yard game.

USM placekicker Andrew Stein converted four field goals, including a 52-yarder near the end of the third quarter.

Southern Miss (1-0) plays on the road next week against No. 8 Florida State at Doak Walker Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., while Alcorn State University (0-1) is scheduled for its second week on the road against Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas.

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