Louisiana Tech beats Southern Miss 31-20

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) Kenneth Dixon caught a pair of touchdowns and ran for a third, all in the second half, as Louisiana Tech rallied past Southern Miss 31-20 on Saturday night.

Dixon’s career-long 84-yard, catch-and-run on the second snap of the second half gave the Bulldogs (5-3, 4-0 Conference USA) their first lead. His 5-yard reception broke a 10-10 tie at the end of the third quarter.

His six catches for 124 yards and the two scores were all career bests.

Louisiana Tech’s Cody Sokol completed 27 of 46 passes for a career-high 423 yards and three touchdowns, including a 29-yarder to Carlos Henderson in the final period. It was the second-most passing yards by an opposing quarterback at Roberts Stadium.

Dixon, who rushed for 41 yards on 19 carries, scored Louisiana Tech’s final points on a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs won their third consecutive game to remain atop Conference USA’s West Division.

Southern Miss (3-5, 1-3) lost starting quarterback Nick Mullens on the game’s first series to a foot injury. Backup Cole Weeks completed 28 of 45 for 338 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He was also sacked five times.

Michael Thomas had seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, while Markese Triplett grabbed six passes for 114 yards.

Both teams’ running games sputtered. Louisiana Tech netted just 30 yards on 26 carries, while Southern Miss netted a minus-31 yards on 26 carries.

George Payne ripped off the Golden Eagles’ longest run of the game, 18 yards, to give Southern Miss a 7-0 lead. It marked the fifth consecutive game that Payne had scored.

Kyle Fischer’s 24-yard field goal pulled the Bulldogs to within 7-3 at halftime.

But after receiving the second-half kickoff, Sokol found Dixon wide open with a short pass in the middle of the Southern Miss defense, and Dixon did the rest, breaking free at 40-yard line and outrunning the pursuit down the sideline for a 10-7 lead.

Corey Acosta tied the game with a 44-yard field goal, but Sokol guided the Bulldogs on a 14-play, 73-yard drive that he capped with the 5-yard pass to Dixon in the flat that gave Louisiana Tech the lead for good.