Three second quarter touchdowns from grad-transfer Mike Collins propelled Rice to a dominant 30-6 win while Southern Miss could never find their footing throughout the Saturday afternoon contest.
“I thought we played hard, but at some point in time you have to execute,” said Southern Miss interim head coach Tim Billings. “We had our opportunities early but we never gained momentum. You have to give Rice credit, they played well. We just have to get more efficient on both sides of the ball.”
Rice’s first points of the day came off the foot of Collin Riccitelli who booted it from 21-yards out after the Owls forced an interception of Jack Abraham on defense to go up 3-0 in the first quarter.
Collins ended the game 12-17 for 233 yards and four touchdowns, with his first of three second quarter touchdowns coming on a 72-yard pass to Austin Trammell. His second of the day came 11 seconds later after Southern Miss lost the kickoff to give the Owls the ball on the USM 25. One play later, Collins found Jake Bailey for the score.
Southern Miss stopped the bleeding with a 45-yard field goal from Briggs Bourgeois, however, Rice was able to respond with another Collins to Trammell touchdown. This time from 13 yards out. Another Bourgeois kick as time expired from 26-yards out closed the gap to 23-6 in favor of the Owls as both teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
Jack Abraham left the game in the second quarter after a hard hit and never returned. Abraham finished the day 12-17 for 112 yards with one interception. Trey Lowe III, a redshirt sophomore, came in for Southern Miss to finish out the contest.
“I had been prepared for the past two weeks as the backup quarterback if anything happened, so I was ready,” said Lowe about coming in after the Abraham injury. “It’s really tough. I was hoping to give the team a bit of a lift but nothing was able to happen.”
The only score of the second half happened when Collins found Trammell for the third time in the fourth quarter with 8:47 left in the game on a 14-yard touchdown pass to extend the Rice lead to 30-6.
Tahj Sykes also left the game in the second half with a lower leg injury and never returned for Southern Miss. Billings said they will evaluate Sykes moving forward.
“I thought we played better defensively the second half, but I still say we aren’t efficient enough,” said Billings. “I think if we keep working there we will get better.”
Jack Abraham - 11-16, 104 yards, 1 interception, 3 attempts, 18 rushing yards
Trey Lowe - 5-6. 57 yards, 3 attempts, 5 rushing yards
Frank Gore Jr. - 11 attempts, 71 yards, 1 reception, 8 receiving yards
Jason Brownlee - 5 receptions, 35 yards
Antoine Robinson - 3 receptions, 41 yards
Tim Jones - 3 receptions, 33 yards
Briggs Bourgeois - 2-2 field goal (45, 26)
Mike Collins - 12-17, 233 yards, 4 passing touchdowns
Juma Otoviano - 25 attempts, 111 yards
Austin Trammell - 7 receptions, 143 yards, 3 receiving touchdown
Andrew Mason - 2 receptions, 44 yards
Jake Bailey - 3 receptions, 46 yards, 1 receiving touchdown