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Southern Miss Notes vs. Kentucky

Sept. 4, 2016

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Southern Miss Captains: 25 – Ito Smith, 82 – Tyler Sarrazin, 94 – Dylan Bradley

Coin Flip: UK wins the toss and elects to receive. Southern Miss kicks off and defends the East goal.

* Southern Miss opened its 100th season by scoring 34 unanswered points to win 44-35. It trailed 35-10 with 56 seconds remaining in the first half.
* Commonwealth Stadium saw the largest comeback in college football since TCU's 31-point effort against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.
* It was the first win over an SEC opponent in 13 tries, with the last successful attempt being a 21-0 shutout against Alabama on Sept. 16, 2000.
* Southern Miss won its first season opener since a 19-17 decision over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 3, 2011 in Hattiesburg.
* It was the team’s first season-opening road win since defeating Nebraska 21-17 on Sept. 11, 2004.
* Southern Miss has won four of its past five road contests.
* The visitors held a 295-56 yardage advantage in the second half.
* The Golden Eagles surrendered the most points in a quarter (21) since allowing 22 against Texas State (9/19/15).
* Southern Miss players making their first career starts included Xavier Thigpen (DL), Julian Allen (TE), Jacob Fleming (LT), Ty Pollard (RT), Isaiah Jones (WR) and Allenzae Staggers (WR).
* Golden Eagles who made their first career action included Julian Allen, Demetrius Market, Quez Watkins, Tarvarius Moore, Ernest Gunn, Allen Fails, Jr., Ty Pollard and Isaiah Jones.

Offensive Notes:
* Southern Miss' 554 yards of offense marked the ninth time since the start of 2015 that it eclipsed the 500-mark.
* The Golden Eagles had a 33-14 edge in first downs.
* Ito Smith (36-173) and George Payne (16-100) became the first Golden Eagle duo with 100-plus rushing yards since Smith and Jalen Richard did so on Nov. 21, 2015 vs. Old Dominion.
* Ito Smith registered the first touchdown of the season – an eight-yard rush from the Wildcat position – on the team’s first possession of the year to give him his 13th career rushing touchdown.
* Nick Mullens hit Isaiah Jones for a 71-yard scoring strike just before the end of the first half, marking the longest pass play for Mullens since he hit Markese Triplett for an 81-yard TD pass against Marshall (11/2/13). It also marked the longest offensive play for the Golden Eagles since Ito Smith rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown against Austin Peay (9/12/15).
* Mullens added his sixth and seventh career rushing score on a pair one-yard QB sneak in the third quarter.
* Ito Smith rushed for a team-high 173 yards, giving him nine career 100-yard contests and tying him for fifth on that school career chart with Shelton Gandy (1985-88) and Sammy Winder (1978-81). * Ito Smith’s 36 carries were a career-high.
* Julian Allen grabbed his first career TD reception from 18 yards with 6:45 left in the third quarter. * Nick Mullens finished over 200 yards passing with 258 for the 28th time in his career, trailing only Austin Davis (2008-11) who had 32 in his four-year career.
* Isaiah Jones led the receiving corps with three catches for 93 yards. His 71-yard score at the end of the first half kicked off the comeback.
* That 71-yard strike that began the rally was Mullens' longest TD pass since his freshman year against Marshall (Nov. 2, 2013).
* D.J. Thompson caught three passes for 25 yards, his 18th consecutive contest with a reception.
* The Golden Eagles converted 9 of their 17 third downs.

Defensive Notes:
* Southern Miss allowed just 56 yards after Kentucky posted 387 in the first half.
* The Wildcats only ran 14 plays from scrimmage in the second half.
* Xavier Thigpen did absolutely everything for the Golden Eagles. He blocked Kentucky's first punt (which led to Southern Miss' first TD) and also recorded a sack, forced a fumble and recovered another.
* The two Southern Miss forced fumbles were on a Dylan Bradley sack and Xavier Thigpen recovery, and vice versa.
* The Golden Eagles tallied four tackles for loss in the first half.
* Dylan Bradley tallied his second career forced fumble and Xavier Thigpen added his second career recovery midway through the third quarter.
* Trae Collins registered his first career interception late in the third quarter.

Special Team Notes:
* Xavier Thigpen records first career block on the game’s first drive, putting a hand on UK’s Grant McKinnis’ boot. It was the first blocked punt for the Golden Eagles since Picasso Nelson, Jr., tallied one against Austin Peay (9/12/15).
* Parker Shaunfield converted his first field goal attempt of the season, making a kick of 31 yards. Shaunfield also tallied a career long 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and sealed the night on a 25-yarder with 2:24 to play.

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