The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Southern Miss Falls Short in Incredible Second-Half Comeback Bid, Losing 50-36 to Texas State

Jackson Kennedy

An improbable, remarkable and almost historic second-half comeback fell short as Southern Miss dropped its fourth straight game after losing to Texas State 50-36.

After trailing 42-10 at halftime, Southern Miss scored 26 points unanswered to make it a one-score game late. A failed fourth down conversion in the fourth quarter closed the door on what would have been an improbable comeback.

“I’m obviously disappointed in our lack of execution, but I’m proud of our effort. I thought we played our tail off in a really hard situation and battled and fought back and had a chance to win it and couldn’t get it done.” Southern Miss head coach Will Hall said.

What went wrong in the first half?

First, Texas State got off to a fast start.

Ismail Mahdi for the Bobcats returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the first opening kickoff return for a touchdown for Texas State since 1959.

“We let them return the opening kickoff-we just kicked it in the dead middle of the field, so we missed our kick zone, but we’ve got to rally and get back to the side- you can’t give up a touchdown. You’re going to give up yards in that, but you can’t give up a touchdown,” Hall said.

It seemed like a play that USM could flush out and get to work on offense. That was not the case, as things turned bad to worse when USM quarterback Billy Wiles got intercepted on the first play from scrimmage.

Texas State scored five plays later to go up 14-0 in the opening few minutes. It took all the life from a team desperate to gain momentum after a subpar showing last week versus Arkansas State.

Southern Miss went three and out on the next possession and gave the ball right back to Texas State.

Texas State scored in three plays to go up 21-0 after Mahdi scored his second touchdown of the night.

There was still over half of the first quarter left on the clock.

It was a fast start, but Southern Miss did nothing threatening on offense.

Wiles led Southern Miss down the field for a small amount of life near the end of the first quarter. However, the drive stalled when Southern Miss faced fourth and one on the Texas State 16-yard line, and Gerquan Scott got called for a false start, which forced a field goal by Andrew Stein to make it 21-3.

Texas State wasted no time after that, scoring in just three plays and 37 seconds to go up 28-3.

“We’ve got to do something different. That’s something new and not something that has plagued us in a lot of my career, but that’s something we’ve got to look at, and something we’ll be addressing this week,” Hall said when asked about falling behind 28-3.

Frank Gore Jr. scored the first touchdown of the game for Southern Miss early in the second quarter to make the score 28-10. Then 14 straight points for Texas State to go into the locker room up 42-10.

“Yeah, I felt like we played hard for sure; we did play sluggish in the first half and that is what really got us. We must stop shooting ourselves in the foot and stop playing 22 versus 11, and we will be fine,” Gore said.

Gore finished the game with 25 carries, netting 116 yards and two touchdowns.

Texas State led in all categories at halftime. They led in total yardage (351-188), rushing yards (121-105), passing yards (230-83) and first downs (17-12). It seemed like the game was destined for the worst conference loss of Hall’s career.

But not so fast, my friend.

An all-effort play by Stanley sparks a historic comeback.

Southern Miss got the ball to start the second half and drove the ball right down the field in five plays across 57 yards. Wiles found Tiaquelin Mims for an 11-yard touchdown to put the score at 42-16 after Stein missed the extra point.

Obviously, with the team still down 26 points, the game seemed out of reach. This was especially true when, later in the quarter, Gore Jr. fumbled the ball on the TXST nine-yard line while Southern Miss was driving the ball.

But this led to what sparked a ferocious comeback.

On third and 13 from their own 10, Texas State quarterback TJ Finley dropped back to pass and seemed to be swallowed up by Golden Eagle defenders for a sack.

Somehow, Finley was able to flip it to Mahdi, and Mahdi took the ball 89 yards to the one-yard line. Right before he crossed the goal line, USM safety Jay Stanley poked the ball out into the back of the endzone, which resulted in a touchback.

The play showcased the effort and the “no-quit” mentality that Hall touts his players having. But more importantly for Stanley, it was to prove his doubters wrong.

“Last week, I had a bad game, and I had people question my effort. This week I really just wanted to spill it all out on the field. I wanted to prove to my teammates and coaches that I would give my all every chance I get,” Stanley said.“It was huge,” Hall said.

Stanley’s effort sparked three straight scoring drives for Southern Miss to bring the score back within a one-score game. Jakarius Caston had an 8-yard touchdown reception from Wiles; Wiles and Gore both had rushing touchdowns to put the score at 42-36 in favor of the Bobcats.

Southern Miss got the ball back with just over three minutes to play but failed to convert on fourth and 17 inside their own 20, which led to Texas State’s last touchdown late in the game to put it away.

It would have been the third-largest in FBS football history if Southern Miss had completed the comeback.

Same story each week

It is without a doubt that the special teams’ woes, penalties, and turnovers continued to be the Achilles heel for Southern Miss this week like they have been over the past several weeks.

The lack of execution in certain areas must be fixed in the first half before the team gets down 32 points at halftime. What the team displayed in the second half is always there, and the question remains: What is stopping them from unleashing that in the first half?

Wiles seemed to think it was a lack of execution.

“It was the same word I have been using all year: execution. In the second half, we got together and started executing,” Wiles said when asked what the difference was between the first and second half.

Wiles finished 19-35 passing with 257 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

Southern Miss had seven penalties for 30 yards tonight; most came at crucial points. They must get that cleaned up to turn this season around.

Southern Miss will look to turn the season around against Old Dominion next weekend on homecoming.

Follow Dima Mixon (@dima_mixon) for coverage of Southern Miss athletics. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to SM2

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Southern Mississipi. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to SM2

Comments (0)

All Southern Miss Student Media Center Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *