Southern Miss lost to North Texas 38-14 after the Mean Green scored 38 unanswered points, dropping its seventh straight game and falling to 1-8 and 0-5 in C-USA.
This is the longest losing streak since 2013 when Southern Miss went 0-23 over 2012 and 2013.
On its first possession, Southern Miss drove right down the field. Frank Gore Jr. had a 38-yard rush, which was his longest run of the season. Jake Lange then found Jason Brownlee on a 17-yard pass to Jason Brownlee, and he went up and got it. Southern Miss scored in five plays, 66 yards in a 1:55.
Head Coach Will Hall said that the first drive for Southern Miss was all “consistent execution”, saying, “we ran five plays and executed five plays.”
On the second North Texas drive, quarterback Austin Aune rifled the ball, and it was tipped by Cam Harrell and then intercepted by Jay Stanley. Stanley returned the ball 55 yards for a touchdown. It was Southern Miss’s first pick six since 2019 against UAB.
“It felt pretty good. It was a lot of emotion, but after I had to focus on the game,” Stanley said.
Southern Miss led the game 14-0 at the end of the first quarter; it was the first game they led by double digits after the first quarter all season. Southern Miss led total yards 104-89, and Jake Lange was sharp. All things were looking up for Southern Miss and they looked like a different team from prior performances.
But North Texas’s second drive of the second quarter is where the collapse started. Mean Green would drive the ball 11 plays and 83 yards in 4:36 to score their first touchdown. Southern Miss had chances to get off the field on that drive; for example, North Texas had a first and 30 and got a first down. Nevertheless, Isaiah Johnson rushed up the middle from 8 yards out and cut the lead to 14-7.
On the next drive, Southern Miss went three and out, which was their fourth punt in a row. North Texas got the ball at their nine-yard line. They would put together a 17-play, 91-yard drive.
Southern Miss made an impressive goal-line stand to end the half. Hall said that they had good things happen throughout the game but could not capitalize on them.
The second half started with a quick three and out by Southern Miss and North Texas went nine plays, 64 yards to score a game-tying touchdown. Ikaika Ragsdale scored the rushing touchdown from 2 yards out.
After another three and out for Southern Miss, North Texas conducted a four-play, 64 yard-drive in under two minutes to take their first lead of the game at 21-14. Ikaika Ragsdale scored on a 44-yard rushing touchdown.
“I thought they pounded it. We haven’t seen a back like those guys other than Alabama,” Hall said.
Jake Lange would be stripped sacked on the next drive for Southern Miss, and Grayson Murphy ran the fumble back 37 yards for a touchdown. That sucked the life out of the 22,478 fans who were there at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
On the next drive for Southern Miss, they started moving the ball but turned the ball over on downs in North Texas’ territory. The Mean Green responded on a 15-play, 71-yard drive and tacked on a field goal to extend their lead to 31-14.
Head coach Will Hall commented after the game on Southern Miss giving up leads, if it is a morale problem,
“It’s not a morale problem, we [as coaches] have to put them in positions and if they [the players] don’t execute, then we need to recruit to get guys in here that will execute it,” Hall said.
In their first drive of the fourth quarter, North Texas milked about four minutes off the clock. Unfortunately for Southern Miss, their offensive struggles continued.
Former student coach, now quarterback, Jake Smithhart lost the ball, and North Texas picked up the fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.
[It was] another tough defeat,” Hall said. “We just aren’t a good football team. We are having difficulty completing a pass.
North Texas ended the game with 537 yards to Southern Miss’s 229 yards.
“We [as the defense] need to complete the game, and I need to be a better leader,” Stanley said.
Southern Miss will travel to San Antonio to take on the ranked University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners next Saturday.