Southern Miss lost to East Carolina 55-14 Saturday in front of 45,005 fans at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The loss was the Golden Eagles’ sixth of the year and continued the nation’s current longest losing streak at 18. Southern Miss dropped to 0-6 overall and 0-2 in Conference USA play.
The Eagles would be on the losing end of history again after ECU receiver Justin Hardy caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to improve his career total to 21, good for second most in ECU history. Pirates quarterback Shane Carden was surgically precise with his passing game as Southern Miss fell under his scalpel for 308 yards and three touchdowns.
Carden was 30 for 37 for the game and connected with ten different receivers. The Eagles defensive backs could not keep up as Hardy posted a 10-reception, 126-yard game with the touchdown. The other nine ECU receivers combined for 24 receptions, 228 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Southern Miss quarterback Allan Bridgford only completed two of his 11 passes for 15 yards while Nick Mullens completed nine for 17 for 97 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Eagles receivers combined for 11 receptions, 112 yards and two touchdowns.
The running game for both teams featured three dominant running backs. Southern Miss’ Tyre Bracken, George Payne and Jalen Richard combined for 110 yards on the ground on 28 carries. Bracken averaged 6.3 yards per carry with a 35-yard run, the longest of the day.
ECU’s Vintavious Cooper, Breon Allen and Chris Hairston combined for 130 yards on the ground on 30 carries and each running back found the end zone. Carden contributed with his own rushing touchdown with a 1-yard run with 5:29 left to play in the second quarter.
Southern Miss’ offense converted just four of 16 third downs and combined for only 233 total yards. ECU racked up 30 first downs while the Eagles could only manage 12. ECU held the ball for 35 minutes and 34 seconds, 11 minutes and eight seconds longer than Southern Miss.
Ten of Southern Miss’ 14 drives featured five or fewer plays before punting or resulting in an interception, fumble or turnover by downs. ECU ran 62 plays before halftime while Southern Miss only ran 25.
Southern Miss’ Tyler Sarrzin punted seven times for 281 yards while ECU’s Trent Tignor was only called on once for 43 yards. The Pirates’ punt return game of Hardy and Allen averaged 25 yards a return on six attempts, the longest being a 66-yard return from Hardy. Southern Miss did not field a punt.
The winless Golden Eagles will host North Texas Oct. 26. at The Rock for Homecoming. This meeting will be the first between the two schools since 2004 when the Golden Eagles won 31-10.