The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Southern Miss loses seventh straight in thriller to Appalachian State

Jackson Kennedy

BOONE, Nc – Southern Miss suffered its seventh consecutive loss after falling to Appalachian State 48-38. 

In a game where the Golden Eagles led until there was 6:37 left in the game, Southern Miss (1-7, 0-4) let the game slip away in the fourth quarter. 

Offense Comes to Life

After giving play calling to Sam Gregg and Jordy Joseph, Southern Miss head coach Will Hall hoped there would be an offensive spark. There was, with Southern Miss grabbing 588 yards of offense and scoring its first offensive touchdowns in October. 

USM starting quarterback Billy Wiles had a solid game, going 23-41 with 287 yards and one touchdown. Frank Gore Jr. had a phenomenal outing, getting 247 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns on the ground. Ti Mims led all receivers with 141 yards on ten receptions. 

There were a few plays that could have changed the game completely, with two field goals missed by Andrew Stein, a lost fumble on the Golden Eagle 1, and a near-touchdown on fourth down broken up in the endzone.

The defense crumbled once again.

A slightly recovered but still injured defense had 40 points or more scored on them for the fifth time this season, a stark contrast to the Southern Miss defense of last year, even though both rosters share nearly identical players. 

The defense was plagued by the big play, as five scores for Appalachian State (4-4, 2-2) were from over 20 yards. All in all, Appalachian State gained 571 yards of offense. 

Southern Miss did force two turnovers, one interception by Jay Stanley, and a fumble recovery from Averie Habas. With many players in the backfield hurt Antavious Willis played as a DB for his second game and recorded a solo tackle and a pass deflected. Jalil Clemons led the team in tackles, with nine total, four solo, 2.5 sacks, and 3.5 tackles for loss. Swayze Bozeman recorded 5 tackles and one solo tackle, but also added many pressures to force a bad pass or a rollout. 

A back and forth contest

On their first drive, Southern Miss looked revitalized and rejuvenated, with Wiles going 4/4 for 68 yards, capped off by a one-handed touchdown grab by Latreal Jones. The playcalling empowered the players, and last week’s shellacking from South Alabama did not phase the players in the slightest; they were energetic on both sides of the ball. The new play-calling from Gregg and Joseph provided plenty of excitement with superback schemes and Ethan Crawford RPOs.  

After the defense gave up Appalachian State’s first touchdown of the game, Southern Miss responded well, getting into the red zone before having to settle for a 32-yard field goal, where Stein doinked it directly against the right pole. 

On Southern Miss’s next drive, Wiles flipped the ball to Gore for a 42-yard TD run.   

Appalachian State responded with three explosive plays, including a double-fake play where Joey Aguilar faked a handoff and faked a reverse before passing for a 26-yard touchdown. 

Southern Miss responded again. The play calling was versatile, having Wiles run out wide, letting Gore handle a superback play with five wide. Gore ran for 43 yards, and an Ethan Crawford 10-yard touchdown rush capped off the 8-play, 75-yard drive.  

Southern Miss continued to build momentum when Stanley picked off Aguilar on the Mountaineer’s ensuing drive. 

After two incompletions and a Gore sack, Stein connected for a 42-yard field goal, extending USM’s lead 24-14.  

The Mountaineers moved the ball down the field afterward with ease until Aguilar fumbled, and Habas recovered. The Golden Eagles moved down the field with quick, efficient play calling. Getting stopped at the 33, Stein just barely missed a 50-yard field goal. Southern Miss entered the locker room at the half up 24-14. 

Appalachian State pulled away late

Appalachian State came out of the gates after halftime hot when they connected on a 57-yard TD pass from Aguilar.  

Southern Miss responded immediately with a 75-yard touchdown rush from Gore on the first play of the drive.

A couple of drives later, Wiles fumbled the ball on his one-yard line, and Appalachian State recovered and took one play to bring the score to 31-28. 

Southern Miss drove the ball down the field despite the multiple penalties, often aided by a clutch play, the most impressive of which was Cole Cavallo’s picturesque mid-air catch to grab a first down on a 3rd and 13. Ethan Crawford handed it off to Jakarius Caston for an 11-yard run to put the cherry on top of a 13-play, 75-yard TD drive. 

Appalachian State went right down the field and scored, responding to the USM score. 

After forcing a USM punt, the Mountaineers used the opportunity Southern Miss afforded them. A 61-yard Kanye Roberts touchdown gave Appalachian State their first lead of the night with 6:37 left to go up 42-38. 

Southern Miss, in need of a response, turned it over on down on their final possession, and that all but did it. 

 Southern Miss is hosting ULM on Saturday, November 4, for their next game. Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m.

“We’re gonna keep battling,” Hall said. “These kids are gonna keep fighting. We’ve gone through a lot this year. We’ve been through a lot and we’re gonna play our freaking hearts out at The Rock next Saturday to try get us a win.”

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    Robert Ingram | Oct 29, 2023 at 9:28 am

    Thanks for the great coverage.