Southern Miss Football won against all odds as they defeated Louisiana Tech 35-19 on Friday night in Ruston, Louisiana, thanks to a standout defensive performance and the team’s new offensive approach.
On Wednesday, Southern Miss posted their official depth chart, which the public immediately noticed that no quarterback was listed, raising questions about how the offense would run.
“We were constructing the depth chart, and I was like shoot man, just scratch quarterback off of there, we don’t play quarterback,” said Head Coach Will Hall. “We play with running backs and receivers, so put the running backs and the super backs on there.”
The super backs were definitely an integral part of the roster in this game as they combined for 294 yards of offense, snapping the Golden Eagles’ eight-game losing streak.
Dajon Richard led the team in rushing with 22 carries and 120 carries, followed by Demarcus Jones’ 87 yards. Despite suffering from an injury from the previous game, Frank Gore Jr. was the most productive passer on the team, completing four of eight passes for 75 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
However, the defense gave the team a good start after Jakarius Caston fumbled on the first play of the game.
The Nasty Bunch defense Set the tone early and forced Louisiana Tech into a field goal. The defense enforced their dominance all night long, never giving up an offensive touchdown.
Hayes Maples had a standout game; he was all over the field with eight tackles and two forced fumbles.
“[It was an] outstanding effort. We were making plays, getting turnovers, it was a defensive game,” said Maples.
Southern Miss’ offense then kickstarted after the field goal with a ten-play, 78 yard drive, and capped off by a one-yard rush from Gore.
The Golden Eagles had four separate players taking snaps on the drive and the “super back offense” worked to perfection. Louisiana Tech would tack on a field goal to cut the lead to 7-6.
Louisiana Tech, on their next drive, had the ball deep in Southern Miss territory and Maples forced his first fumble, which was recovered by Santrell Latham, who returned it for 72 yards.
Gore then completed his first touchdown pass to Jason Brownlee, putting Southern Miss up 14-6.
Gore threw his second touchdown pass of the game later on a 40-yard throw to Brownlee at the end of the half.
Hall said that Gore Jr. looked like “Tom Brady” in the backfield. The throw exploded on social media, and the Golden Eagles went into the locker room with a 21-9 point lead.
They led in total yards 161-152, and without a listed quarterback, led Tech in passing yards 70-20.
But the third quarter was a nightmare for offenses, as both teams combined for just 39 yards.
The Bulldogs forced a fumble to begin the fourth quarter and returned the ball for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 21-19.
While the lead had dwindled to two points, the Golden Eagles responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive in just over five minutes, and Antavious Willis found Grayson Gunter for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
On the ensuing drive, Averie Habas tipped a pass from Aaron Allen and intercepted it, returning it for a game-sealing pick-six.
The win snapped Southern Miss’ longest losing streak since 2013 and also gave Hall his first conference win and first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent in his time at Southern Miss.
“I don’t deserve the credit,” said Hall. “These kids made the decision to play at a high level and to do what it takes to win. We are not a finished product, we are building the rock, and I can’t wait to put the house on it.”
Southern Miss improved to 2-9 and 1-6 in conference play. Louisiana Tech fell to 3-8 and 2-5 in conference play. The Golden Eagles will be back in action for the season’s final game on Senior Day versus Florida International University Nov. 27 at the Rock.