HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Quarterback Austin Davis rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another as Southern Mississippi defeated Marshall 41-16 Saturday night.
Southern Miss (4-1, 1-0 Conference USA) built a 28-0 halftime lead after Marshall (1-4, 0-1) gained just 46 yards on 23 first-half plays.
The Thundering Herd finished with 180 yards of offense, the lowest total of any Southern Miss opponent since Larry Fedora took over after the 2007 season.
Marshall was forced to punt on its first seven possessions and crossed midfield one time on the way to its only offensive touchdown, a 6-yard pass from Brian Anderson to Aaron Dobson. The Herd's other touchdown came on a 101-yard kick return by Troy Evans.
Southern Miss scored on four of its first six possessions, the first coming on Davis' only passing touchdown -- a 19-yard strike to Quentin Pierce. Davis finished 16-of-29 passing for 162 yards and rushed 12 times for 25 yards.
Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, the national sacks leader coming into Saturday, reached Davis twice to run his season total to eight in five games.
With star receiver DeAndre Brown out with a lower leg strain, the Southern Miss ground game rolled to 172 rushing yards before the second string took over with just under six minutes remaining.
Sophomore Desmond Johnson carried the bulk of the load, rushing 13 times for 73 yards.
Marshall turned to backup quarterback A.J. Graham after Anderson completed 4 of 13 passes in the first half for 16 yards. Graham was much better, completing 8 of his 10 attempts for 89 yards. Marshall coach Doc Holliday sent Anderson back in for his team's final two drives.
Danny Hrapmann was good on a pair of field goals for Southern Miss, including a career-long 51-yarder.
Southern Miss ran its home winning streak to 11 games, and is off to its best start since 2004 when it started 4-0.