Taking a 21-0 lead into halftime, Joe Moorhead and the Mississippi State Bulldogs rode a strong defensive performance to a 38-15 win over Southern Miss.

Now 2-0, the Bulldogs defense forced three turnovers and sacked Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham two times.

With temperatures in the 90s, Moorhead thanked the fans who “braved the elements” at Davis Wade Stadium.

The excessive heat did not slow down the Bulldogs’ offense as the team recorded 386 yards of offense and averaged 6.2 yards per play. Getting the scoring started with a 28-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior Osirus Mitchell, quarterback Tommy Stevens went 9-10 for 105 yards and two touchdowns before leaving late in the second quarter with an injury.

“I would have loved to see him finish that game,” Moorhead said of his graduate transfer quarterback. “I think he was ready to have a really big day.”

While noting that it is an upper-body injury, Moorhead said he will not have an update on Stevens’ status until Monday.

True freshman Garrett Shrader relieved Stevens and finished 7-11 for 71 yards. Keytaon Thompson, a junior, recently rejoined the program after entering the NCAA Transfer Portal.

Having started one game and appearing in nine in 2018, Thompson has some familiarity with Moorhead’s system. Asked who would start if Stevens is forced to miss time, Moorhead said he “can’t answer” at the moment.

Junior Kylin Hill led the running game with 123 yards on 14 carries (8.7 YPC). Briefly leaving the game with an injury late in the first half, Hill’s touchdown and 67 of his yards came after getting checked out.

Hosting the 2-0 Kansas State Wildcats on September 14, Moorhead knows his team is in for a big test.

“We have to be like our mascot,” he said. “We need to be a dang Bulldog.”