HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes and Brandon Holloway returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score to lead Mississippi State past Southern Mississippi 34-16 on Saturday night.
It was a tighter-than-expected outcome considering Southern Miss had a 4-32 record over the last three seasons and lost 49-0 to the Bulldogs last season in Starkville.
But Mississippi State had two crucial first-half turnovers that helped keep Southern Miss in the game. The Golden Eagles were hosting a Southeastern Conference opponent for the first time since 1989.
Mississippi State led 14-10 at halftime and pushed ahead 21-10 on Prescott's 4-yard touchdown throw to Gus Walley. The Golden Eagles weren't able to get any closer.
Prescott completed 22 of 38 passes for 237 yards and also added 72 yards rushing, including a 7-yard touchdown.
Nick Mullens led Southern Mississippi with 311 yards passing and a touchdown, but the Golden Eagles bogged down several times in the red zone, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns.
While Southern Miss was sputtering, Mississippi State's offense took off when Prescott started to run.
His 49-yard sprint down the right sideline was the big play of one touchdown drive while his 7-yard run for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter sealed the hard-fought victory.
Southern Miss announced a stadium-record crowd of 36,641. The Golden Eagles were able to keep things interesting for a while.
Some early Mississippi State blunders were crucial to producing the tight halftime score.
The Bulldogs' new starting running back Ashton Shumpert looked like he was about to score a touchdown but fumbled at the 1. A little later, Fred Ross made an attempt at catching a bouncing punt and it smacked off his hands before being recovered by Southern Miss.
Southern Miss managed just two field goals after halftime.