Southern Miss breaks through, reaches bowl eligibility for first time since 2019, beats Louisiana Monroe 20-10.


MONROE, La – Southern Miss beats Louisiana Monroe 20-10 to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2019. The Golden Eagles were lifted by Frank Gore Jr, who had a career-high 199 yards and one touchdown, and by the defense.

“Just an awesome win for our players, just another classic Southern Miss game this year. We play our butt of every week to get them back, to get our program back to where it’s supposed to be. This is a great step in the right direction, in year two to get us to a bowl game.” Head coach Will Hall said.

Southern Miss was relying heavily on the run early. With the conditions in the weather, that was no surprise (it was downpouring for most of the contest.) Southern Miss put the ball on the ground on four of its first five plays of the game. The fifth play, a shovel pass to Jakarius Caston from Trey Lowe, seemed like a run and went for a 29-yard touchdown.

While the play was labeled a pass, Caston took the ball from the backfield and outran the safety for a score to go up 7-0 quickly. Gore Jr had 43 yards on the ground in that opening drive. The drive lasted five plays in just over two minutes for a 75-yard drive.

“We didn’t want to let the game get away from us, so we just wanted to run the ball. It worked early, and coach stayed with it. We got the job done.” Gore Jr. said.

They got the job done, with a season-high 265 rushing total for the team. One hundred ninety-nine of those yards belonged to Gore Jr. With Gore’s effort tonight; he became the first Southern Miss back to reach 1,000 yards on the season since Ito Smith did it in 2017.

“Going into the game, I knew how much in needed. I wasn’t going to let anything else stop me. I knew this was history. We have had a bunch of good running back get through this program, I wanted to put my name in that position as well.” Gore Jr. said.

Southern Miss’s defense got back in its groove after forcing an opening three and out and gave the ball right back to Lowe and company. Lowe orchestrated an 11-play, 69-yard drive capped off by a Briggs Bourgeois 20-yard field goal to push the lead up to 10-0.

For everything that went right in this game, the red zone did not. Some might even call it the dead zone; in Southern Miss’s trips down there, none ended with a touchdown, and only one ended in a field goal.

“We had two guys wide open, and they dropped the ball. I don’t know what to say. We just have to do the simple things, a simple thing that we have got to be able to do.” Hall said.

Louisiana Monroe found some groove on offense on its second drive of the day. Chandler Rodgers led the Warhawks down the field on a 12-play, 73-yard drive, and he capped off the drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Henry. Henry caught the pass on a quick bubble screen, then ran to the opposite end of the field for the TD.

Southern Miss led at the half 10-7, after a lousy ending half possession where the clock ran out before Southern Miss could score; they had it on the one-yard line and could not come up with points as time expired.

Southern Miss led in yards 277-82 at halftime and just led by three points. Lowe was 9-11 for 111 yards and the touchdown to Caston.

Southern Miss started the second half by forcing a three-and-out for the Warhawks. Averie Habas, credited with a team-high eight total tackles, four solo tackles, and a sack, came up huge for the Golden Eagles.

“I came in here three years ago with Coach Hop, and new coaches came in and I just stuck with it. I believed in him, I trusted him, and a lot of guys did, not a lot of guys left. Here we are going bowling, and just the progress going into next year.” Habas said.

However, ULM was able to put a drive together in the third quarter to tie the game up at 10. The Warhawks flew down the field on a nine-play 49-yard drive, capped off by a 37-yard field goal.

The Golden Eagles could not get anything offensively after the two opening scoring drives, punting on three drives and turning the ball over on downs on the other one. Lowe gave the offense life; however, late in the third quarter, he found Lateral Jones across the middle for a 59-yard completion to set up the Golden Eagles in Warhawk territory and would eventually lead to a Bourgeois field goal to put Southern Miss up 13-10.

“Frog Jones, who’s a young man who represents everything this program is about. He caught a big pass tonight and then makes a huge play in the kicking game,” Hall said.

After the field goal, Southern Miss forced ULM to punt after a Dominic Quewon sack. Brendan Toles blocked the punt and set up Southern Miss on the ULM 33, which set up Gore Jr for a game-sealing 33-yard touchdown run, where he juked the mess out of a ULM safety. A crucial three-play sequence for the Golden Eagles.

“I saw a big hole. I could have easily run to the touchdown, but I just wanted to toy with No. 21.” Gore Jr said.

With the win, Southern Miss reached bowl eligibility for the first time since the 2019 season and will go to a bowl game for the 23rd time in 28 years. It will be the 27th bowl appearance for the program.

“This was a huge step in the right direction. I’m just glad our kids got rewarded for the fight they put in. Because we have to overcome a lot sometimes, and man we battle and fight and this was a really good win for us tonight.” Hall said.

Southern Miss will await their destiny on which bowl game they will go to. Nevertheless, for Hall and company nothing but celebration after a long regular season, but it ends with a bowl berth and a shot at a bowl victory.