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Southern Miss defense excels, but offense stalls in loss to Troy

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Photos by: Charlie Luttrell

Troy beat Southern Miss at home 21-9, spoiling Ty Keyes’s first game as a career starter at Southern Miss.

 “[It was] a really disappointing loss. At home, I thought our fans came out, had great energy,” Head Coach Will Hall said. “We played really hard on defense for a long time and gave ourselves a chance to win…It’s just disappointing that we couldn’t generate any offense.”

In the first half, the defense was a key part of the game as Southern Miss held Troy to four three-and-outs, which caused the Trojans to punt five times. The Golden Eagles held Troy to 88 yards in the first half with zero yards rushing in the first half. 

Despite the offense showing promise to begin the game, the unit struggled throughout the game, finishing the game with –1 rushing yards. The Golden Eagles were held to 46 total yards in the second half together. 

“At the end of the day, it is a team loss, but we’ve got to get better offensively.” Coach Hall said.

In his debut as a starter, Keyes threw 16 completions of 27 passes for 157 yards and 2 interceptions. Keyes was also sacked nine times throughout the game. The true freshman, who has seldom lost games in his football career, admitted this loss “hurts”. 

As the offense stalled, the defense started to show its wear as it stayed on the field. 

“There’s a lot I’ve got to fix to put the team in a better position because the defense stayed on the field way too long,” Keyes said. “We had chances to win the game but we didn’t execute as a team.”

At the start of the second half, Troy scored to take a 7-3 lead. From then on, Southern Miss could not stop the Trojans’ momentum.

Quarterback Tyler Powell found his rhythm in the second half, finishing the game with 27 of 39 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. His receiver, Tez Johnson, had high-volume targets with ten catches for 106 yards, his longest being 34 yards.

“I wouldn’t say we played well, we gave up some key touchdowns. We’ve just got to get back to work and fix those mistakes.” Defensive Lineman Eriq Kitchen said. 

Troy’s Deyunkrea Lewis scores on a pass from Powell in the third quarter.

Eriq Kitchen led the Golden Eagles with two sacks, four tackles and two tackles for losses. Malik Shorts had seven tackles and three pass breakups and Jay Stanley also had seven tackles and 0.5 tackles. 

Even though the defense allowed two passing touchdowns in the second half, the defense held the Trojans to just 49 yards. Also, the defense forced two turnovers, scoring on the second forced fumble for the team’s only touchdown of the game. Everitt Cunningham returned a fumble in the fourth quarter 47 yards for a touchdown.

Everitt Cunningham scores the Golden Eagles’ only touchdown of the game on a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.
https://twitter.com/4thStreetSports/status/1439458200852447242

The offense started well on their first drive with two big completions from Keyes to Jason Brownlee for 9 yards and one to Antoine Robinson for 27 yards. However, the offense settled for a field goal, leading to a 46-yard field goal from Briggs Bourgeois for an early 3-0 lead.

Hall praised the special teams unit performed well and continued its success on the season.

Punter Mason Hunt continued his strong start to the season, as the Golden Eagles relied on him throughout the game. Hunt punted ten times for a total of 425 yards.

 The Golden Eagles move on to 1-2 on the season, as they get ready for their next game against Alabama in Tuscaloosa Sept.25.

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