HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Middle Tennessee returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the first half Saturday afternoon as the Blue Raiders posted a 42-21 victory over winless Southern Miss.
Linebacker T.T. Barber gave MTSU (7-4, 5-2 Conference USA) a 7-0 lead with a 24-yard interception return with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
Then, after tying the game for Southern Miss with an 11-yard scoring strike to Dominique Sullivan, Nick Mullens sailed a pass that MTSU safety Kevin Byard intercepted and returned 51 yards to put the Blue Raiders on top for good.
MTSU won its fourth consecutive game. The Golden Eagles (0-11, 0-7) extended the Football Bowl Series' longest losing streak to 23 games, including a string of 11 home losses.
Southern Miss moved the ball effectively in the first quarter, outgaining MTSU 147 yards to 37 yards total offense. But an opening drive came up barren when Corey Acosta's 29-yard field goal attempt clanked off the top of the left upright, and Mullens' miscues shifted momentum to the visitors' sideline.
After a slow start, MTSU's offense got in gear in the second quarter, with running back Shane Tucker scoring on a 3-yard run and quarterback Logan Kilgore finding receiver Tavarres Jefferson for a 16-yard touchdown for a 28-7 halftime lead.
Southern Miss got within 28-14 late in the third quarter on Mullens' 14-yard pass to running back Kendrick Hardy, but Tucker scored his second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run and Corey Carmichael added a 32-yard touchdown run to rebuild MTSU's cushion.
Mullens threw a career-high third TD pass, a 13-yarder to receiver Tyre'oune Holmes, to wrap up the scoring with 2:33 to play
MTSU, which came into the game ranked third nationally with 28 takeaways, added another pair in the first half.
ESPN senior college football writer Mark Schlabach explains what the leaked conversation between Laremy Tunsil and Ole Miss athletic director John Miller and Tunsil admitting after the NFL draft may mean for Ole Miss.
The following is a list of commitments to Power-5 programs from April 22nd - April 28th:ACCBoston College: QB-PP E.J. Perry (6-foot-2, 190), eval pendingDuke: OG Rakavius Chambers (6-foot-3, 275), eval pending; OC Will Taylor (6-foot-4, 280), eval pendingVirginia: RB Lamont Atkins (5-foot-11, 200), eval pending; ATH Germane Crowell (6-foot-2, 180), eval pendingVirginia Tech: TE-H Drake Deluliis (6-foot-6, 216), eval pendingWake Forest: OG Allan Rappleyea (6-foot-4, 260), eval pendingBig 12Iowa State: DE Angel Dominguez (6-foot-3, 248), eval pending; OLB Jake Hummel (6-foot-1, 210), eval pendingBig TenIllinois: Three-star WR Ricky Smalling (6-foot, 190); WR Kendall Smith (6-foot-1, 175), eval pendingIowa: DE Levi Duwa (6-foot-2, 230), eval pendingMichigan State: RB Weston Bridges (6-foot, 200), eval pending; OLB Darien Clemons (6-foot, 215), eval pendingNorthwestern: QB-PP Andrew Marty (6-foot-4, 200), eval pendingPenn State: Three-star CB D.
Les Miles might have his best collection of secondary talent at LSU and that's saying a lot; Alabama and Florida boast talent on the back end, too.
Ezekiel Elliott steps into a great situation with Dallas, and Jack Conklin and Taylor Decker should be NFL OL starters for years.
Although coach Matt Campbell's depth chart remains a bit fluid, the Cyclones have the makings of a pretty good defense.
Look for defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei and safety Marcus Williams to play key roles again for the Utes.