Southern Miss suffers another heartbreaker, bested by South Alabama 27-20 on Senior Day

Photo by Charlie Luttrell, SM2

HATTIESBURG, Ms – South Alabama dealt Southern Miss another heartbreaking loss when South Alabama came into the Rock on Saturday afternoon. Balls on players’ fingertips, running backs tripped up at the last second and huge plays for opposing South Alabama highlight Southern Miss’s 27-20 loss to South Alabama. The loss marks the third consecutive year Southern Miss falls to the Jaguars.

“It wasn’t a bad effort by the defense, it wasn’t a bad effort by the offense, it wasn’t even a bad effort by the kicking game, it just wasn’t enough.” Head coach Will Hall said after the game.

It seems like the same story for every loss. Southern Miss does not do enough to win the game, even when given opportunities. You can argue that Southern Miss has improved on every front since this game last season, but at some point, they have got to start showing the verbiage on the field.

Hall said after the game that it is “with development and coaching” to get to that next step to winning these close games. The Golden Eagles have had six games this season where the game finished a one-possession game. They are 3-3 in those matchups, with three losses to the teams with winning records.

“I think we’re going to end up playing five teams this year that won nine games or more. We beat one of them, and we took the other four to the wire.” Hall said.

The schedule has been hard, but the team has been getting so close so many times.

“A really tough game, we were just a few plays away. Wish I could have made a few more plays.” Starting quarterback, Trey Low said.

Southern Miss had multiple plays in the game, where maybe even if just one of them went their way, they could have won that game. One that comes to mind is Lowe missing senior wide receiver Jason Brownlee on a deep ball touchdown that touched his fingertips. If he hauls that, Southern Miss leads 17-13 early in the third quarter, and they have much momentum. But the same story, different week, they cannot make the plays to win.

South Alabama started with the ball and on the game’s second play, Jaguar running back Braylon McReynolds ran right up the seams for a 64-yard gain to the USM 8. The Golden Eagle defense held firm and forced a South Alabama field goal to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Jaguars.

Southern Miss went three and out right out of the gate and gave the ball right back to South Alabama. On third down of the ensuing drive, Jaguar quarterback Carter Bradley tried to squeeze it into Caullin Lacy, but Jay Stanley intercepted the ball and returned it to near midfield.

The offense cashed in the interception a couple of plays later thanks to a Frank Gore Jr seven-yard touchdown run. Southern Miss led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.

After several drives which did not move the ball much by either team, Southern Miss finally put together an eight-play, 31-yard drive in just over four minutes to finish with a 22-yard field goal by Briggs Bourgeois to put USM on top 10-3.

South Alabama responded with a four-play, 64-yard drive in just over a minute to tie the game instantly. The Jaguars would put together another drive to lead 13-10 at the half.

The Jaguars led in yardage at halftime 274-91 and had 153 passing yards. Southern Miss just had 53 passing yards, a distinct difference from Lowe and company’s numbers last week.

“We had some opportunities to make some explosive plays that we didn’t make and they did, that’s a credit to them.” Hall said.

There was no scoring in the second half until the Golden Eagles put together a seven-play, 65-yard drive in just over four minutes with one-minute remaining in the quarter. In a weird-looking play, Gore Jr and Lowe were not expecting the ball, but the ball was snapped anyways. Gore picked the ball up and heaved it deep, and Brownlee came up with the 29-yard touchdown pass to put Southern Miss back in front 17-13.



“They’re a top 20 defense in the country, we had 21 first downs. We had the ball for almost 32 minutes. If you’d told me going into the game, you might have 21 first downs, you’re going have the ball for 32 minutes, you’re going to go two out of three on touchdowns in the red zone, you’re going make another field goal, you’re going to have eight conversions in the game, and we were six of 15 on third down but two of three on fourth. So that’s eight of 18 total.” Hall said.

The lead would not last long; however, The Jaguars put together a ten-play, 61-yard drive and finished it off with Bradley finding Lacy for a 26-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 20-17.

The Golden Eagles went for it on fourth and six on their next drive from the South Alabama 45. That decision led to a South Alabama touchdown drive to push the lead to 27-17 and ice the game with under five minutes remaining.

“I felt like if they punt it and have a long drive and then they will never get it back. And if we get it, we win the game. Analytically, it was the right call,” Hall said. “Now that we didn’t get it, I wish I had punted.”

There were many things Southern Miss “wished” they could have done in that game and many other games this season. However, for them, this is not the end; they still have one more shot at reaching bowl eligibility next week at ULM.

“We need to win the next one. It’s important to go out right.” Lowe said when asked what Hall’s message to the team was.

Southern Miss has come up so close so many times this season; are they due to get over the top? We will find out next Saturday in Monroe.

“But regardless,, we got to continue to develop these young kids, we got to continue to recruit, because we’re just not there yet. But boy, are we close, and close is good in horseshoes and hand grenades. I certainly understand that I didn’t grow up in a household where close was ever good enough. But we’ve gone from a program that wasn’t even in the realm of being a college football team. And in one year later, man, we can play with anybody on any given night. So I’m proud of our development, I’m proud of how we’re recruiting. I’m not proud that we’re not finding a way to win these games.” Hall said.

Southern Miss plays ULM at 4 PM next Saturday on ESPN+