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USM continues hot streak with victory over Louisiana

Joe Harper/
USM’s Frank Gore Jr. celebrates with teammates after scoring.

Southern Miss football continued its hot streak on the offensive side of the ball after beating Louisiana on the road on Thursday night 34-31.

Frank Gore Jr carried the day for Southern Miss. He rushed for 158 yards on a career-high 33 carries to collect his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season and 13th for his career.

“I feel great,” Gore Jr. said in the postgame radio interview. “It doesn’t feel like I ran that much. My legs are under me. I can play a whole nother game.”

Gore Jr fumbled the ball late during the game to give Louisiana a chance to go ahead with a late touchdown, but he was responsible for the game-sealing three-yard touchdown run in overtime to give the Golden Eagles the win.

The win is their second in a row, the longest streak for the Golden Eagles thus far this season.

Here are two takeaways from the Louisiana game for Southern Miss football:

The offense has found stride under Ethan Crawford.

Southern Miss has had one starter throughout the season taking the snaps in Billy Wiles. Wiles has started every game this season, but Crawford has been taking more of his playing time since the Appalachian State game. USM has won two games in a row.

Against Louisiana, Crawford led Southern Miss to an iconic game-tying touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. As a true freshman, that takes guts, and for Crawford to not only do that but do it on the road is very eye-opening to what he could become in the future for the Golden Eagles.

Throughout the drives that Crawford has been in at quarterback, the Southern Miss offense has a lot more threat to it because the defense is forced to respect Crawford’s legs while still trying to cover talented receivers.

This was made most evident when Crawford found Jakarius Caston on a scramble drill for a game-tying touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Crawford finished the game 6 of 11 for only 62 yards and a touchdown and also carried five times for 17 yards.

Granted, the stats don’t look like it, but Crawford still had a way better day than Wiles and earned USM the victory.

Now, USM is left with an imposing predicament. Since Crawford is a freshman, it was thought they would seek a red short for Crawford while these other two guys go to work so he can earn a year of eligibility. Crawford has played in four games; one more will burn his redshirt.

Will he play against Mississippi State on Saturday? Southern Miss head coach Will Hall had said in the past that they would do whatever it took to beat their opponent when asked about the redshirting of Ethan Crawford.

Now, the question is glaring much more than it was a week or two left, especially with arguably the biggest game on your schedule still left to go out and play.

The defense bends, but it doesn’t usually break.

Even with the defense being one of the worst defenses in the country, they still can make key stops and moments to give their offense a chance.

During the Louisiana game, the Golden Eagles defense held Louisiana scoreless, with only two goal-line stands to keep Louisiana from scoring or taking the lead.

Louisiana had its second goal from the two and failed to capitalize to get any points. They also had it with first and goal from the one line later in the game, and still failed to get even that one across to hit pater. Those defense stands proved to be crucial and the difference in the fun.

This could be extremely helpful to them when they line up to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday at 11 a.m. in Starkville, Mississippi.

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