Southern Miss shuts out Alcorn in season opener

Published 12:38 am Sunday, September 6, 2009

HATTIESBURG (AP) — Austin Davis threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score to lead Southern Mississippi to a 52-0 win over Alcorn State on Saturday.

The Golden Eagles went into halftime with a 35-0 lead, as some of the starters did not play much of the second half.

Davis found Gerald Baptiste for a pair of touchdowns, the first coming just over 3 minutes into the game. The sophomore did it all without the help of star receiver DeAndre Brown, who was sidelined as a precaution as he continues to recover from a broken left leg.

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‘‘They say that a quarterback’s biggest improvement is from year one to year two, and I kind of felt that tonight,’’ Davis said. ‘‘I felt comfortable with everything we called, and I know that we can be even better than we were tonight.’’

Former Alcorn State quarterback and NFL star Steve McNair was honored before kickoff. McNair was killed in a murder-suicide committed by Sahel Kazemi on July 4. McNair’s mother Lucille McNair, his son Steve, Jr. and widow Mechelle McNair all were honored at midfield as a video played to the tune of ‘‘What a Wonderful World.’’

Damion Fletcher led Southern Miss with 126 yards rushing and a touchdown. The Golden Eagles, who gained 631 yards on offense, came just two yards short of the school’s single game record. The shutout was the first for Southern Miss since 2006.

‘‘It was a good solid outing for a first game of the season,’’ Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. ‘‘We had some mistakes on both sides of the ball, left some points on the field and gave up too many big plays, but hopefully we can improve from here.’’

The Braves scratched out nine first downs in the first half, but were held to just one in the second.

The announced crowd of 36,232 was an M.M. Roberts Stadium and Southern Miss school record for home attendance.