Head Coach Will Hall earned his first win at Southern Miss as the team’s rushing attack shone and the defense shutout Grambling State for a 37-0 victory.
“We didn’t put our best foot forward last week but we did play really well defensively and we said we are going to get back to building a program that is conducive to developing quarterbacks and playing great defense. Through two weeks, we’ve done that,” Head Coach Will Hall said.
As a team, the Golden Eagles ran for a total of 290 yards, spearheaded by freshman Frank Gore Jr.’s performance.
Gore set a career-high of 162 rushing yards on 21 attempts and one touchdown. His performance earned him his fourth 100-yard game of his career.
Dajon Richard also impressed in his first outing at Southern Miss, rushing for 76 yards on ten carries.
“They have a chance to be a really good one-two punch,” Hall said. “Both of them are really talented and young.”
On defense, the Golden Eagles earned its first shutout since 2017, as the unit limited Grambling State to a total of 152 yards.
“We really worked hard this week and had to bounce back from last week,” linebacker Josh Carr Jr. said. “We already had a goal on our mind that we had to shut them out. Praise to them- they really fought the whole four quarters. We just had to get in our mind [that] it’s time to bring the tradition back.”
Carr was involved in both of the Golden Eagles’ sacks, earning credit for 1.5 sacks. Lakevias Daniel also gave Southern Miss an interception in the fourth quarter.
The rushing corps set the tone early on, but carried the offense after quarterback Trey Lowe III did not leave the locker room after halftime from a “lower extremity” injury he suffered in the first half. True freshman Ty Keyes took over for the remainder of the game.
“I had no idea. Trey went down [and] I knew I had to step up big time for the team,” Keyes said. “The team believed in me and the coaching staff believed in me. I had to get out there and execute to get the job done.”
While Keyes threw four completions on eleven passes, he threw for a touchdown at the end of the game and rushed for 67 yards.
“Ty came in as a true freshman and obviously did what he does. He wakes up and wins; he’s been doing that his whole life,” Hall said. “He showed some really good ability to run, and made some big plays with his feet. He made some really good throws [and] he was on point with some reads.”
Hall said he and the coaching staff will have to assess the severity of Lowe’s injury to address the quarterback situation moving forward.
Lowe threw for 10 of 13 for 99 yards and the first touchdown of the game in the first quarter to receiver Jason Brownlee.
After jumping to a 10-0 lead in the first half, Keyes fumbled on his first drive in the second half on a run exchange with Gore. Gore recovered shortly, exploding past the Tigers and diving into the endzone for a 51-yard touchdown.
“It was a play I had been asking Coach [Hall] to call all day and he finally called it,” Gore said. “The o-line blocked and I just saw one guy, made him miss and scored a touchdown.”
After Gore earned a 27-yard rush on a drive in the third quarter, Richard finished it with another 27-yarder for his first career touchdown at Southern Miss, giving the Golden Eagles a 27-0 lead.
Keyes gave Southern Miss its final touchdown with an 11-yard pass to the back of the endzone to receiver Jakarius Caston.
Caston led the team in receiving with four receptions and 50 yards. Hall said the team’s number one receiver, Brownlee has been dealing with an ankle injury and Caston has stepped up as he recovers.
“He has stepped up…he’s super talented and is going to be a great player. Brownlee is continuing to get healthier and I think our wideouts are coming on and we have a good group right there,” Hall said.
Southern Miss plays Troy next Sept. 18 at home at 6 p.m.