In the first regular season game of The Battle for the Bell since 2010, Tulane dominated Southern Miss 66-24 to take the Bell back to New Orleans.
“I’m embarrassed,” Head Coach Scotty Walden said. “Our team’s embarrassed. That’s not the way we want to lose and I want to apologize to our fans. That don’t make it better. The only thing I know to do is we have to really correct what we’re doing and we’ve got to see if it’s an effort issue on film or if it’s an assignment or scheme issue.”
Tulane scored the most points by either team in the rivalry’s 34-game history. With the loss, Southern Miss drops to 0-3 for the first time since 2013.
Southern Miss could not stop Tulane’s rushing attack. The Green Wave carried the ball 54 times for 430 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season, the most the Golden Eagles allowed on the ground was 210 yards against Mississippi State.
“They had a really good game,” defensive back Ky’el Hemby said. “He [Cameron Carroll, Tulane RB] is a really good physical, strong running back, but I feel as though we just didn’t execute as we were supposed to. No shade to him — he can run that thing — but I feel like we just didn’t show up.”
Southern Miss did not trail the whole game. The team got off to an early start, going up 14-0 early in the first quarter. On the first drive of the game, running back Dee Baker ran for 37 yards and a Tulane pass interference set up a two-yard rushing touchdown from fellow running back Kevin Perkins. On the next offensive drive, quarterback Jack Abraham found wide receiver Jason Brownlee in the middle of the field, who then ran past Tulane’s secondary for an 88-yard touchdown. Brownlee’s touchdown is the fourth longest in school history.
However, the Green Wave stopped the Golden Eagles’ early offensive attack by intercepting a screen pass from Abraham. Cornerback Kevaris Hall got the pick and returned it to Southern Miss’ eight yard line. Three plays later, running back Tyjae Spears ran it in for a two-yard touchdown.
Tulane quarterback Keon Howard, formerly a Southern Miss quarterback, was benched towards the end of the first quarter and was replaced by true freshman Michael Pratt. On his first drive, Pratt was hit outside of the pocket by linebacker Santrell Latham. After review, Latham was ejected for targeting.
“Obviously it hurt losing Santrell,” Walden said. “He’s our captain on defense. I’ll be honest with you with the targeting penalty, I know Santrell was [doing] nothing malicious to where he led with the crown of his helmet […] I didn’t feel like he did anything intentional. Unfortunately, it was called for targeting.”
Tulane then moved the ball down the field and tied the game with another running touchdown from Spears. Spears went down after the play and did not return to the field for the remainder of the game. He finished with eight carries for 50 yards and his first two touchdowns of the year.
On the next drive, Abraham connected with tight end Naricuss Driver who blew past Tulane’s secondary and scored a 61-yard touchdown to put Southern Miss up again with a 21-14 lead.
Tulane took advantage of a sloppy play from Southern Miss for the rest of the half. After a fumbled punt return by cornerback Natrone Brooks, Tulane running back Cameron Carroll caught a 32-yard touchdown from Pratt. On its next drive, the Green Wave kicked a field goal. After a three and out from Southern Miss, Carroll got another touchdown on a 30-yard run to finish the half at 31-21.
Tulane continued its attack during the second half. Two plays into the third quarter, Carroll broke free for his third touchdown of the day on a 52-yard run.
Southern Miss’ kicker Briggs Bourgeois made a career long field goal of 49 yards to put the game within two touchdowns, but Southern Miss could not score again for the remainder of the game.
Tulane continued to dismantle Southern Miss. Pratt connected with receiver Jha’Quan Jackson for a 42-yard touchdown and, three minutes later, running back Stephon Huderson ran free for a 53-yard touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Pratt sneaked in at the goaline for a touchdown. Carrol then earned his fourth touchdown of the game on a 19-yard run to put the score up to 66-24. Carroll finished the game with fifteen carries for 163 yards and four total touchdowns.
“We’ve got nine games ahead of us and my main message to the guys is keep working and put this one behind us,” Abraham said. “It’s obviously embarrassing and not the way we want to have the game turn out, but we’ve got a lot of football ahead of us.”
Southern Miss will travel to play North Texas next weekend on Oct. 3 at 6:30 P.M.