Eagles just miss first win of season in Orlando
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 01:10
Although the Golden Eagles looked improved in most areas, it was not enough to get the first win of the season as the Southern Miss football team fell to conference foe Central Florida 38-31 in double overtime on Saturday.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 0-6 on the season despite a strong effort by several freshmen. Quarterback Anthony Alford had the offense looking its best as he accumulated 236 total yards and two rushing touchdowns. The most surprising performance of the night came from freshman running back Jalen Richard, who ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. His 87 yards was a career high, and he tied a career high in rush attempts.
“It’s granted to how my line blocked tonight,” Richard said after the game. “What’s still ringing around my head is a block or two that I missed tonight that forced us to punt the ball. I played good, and everybody is congratulating me, but I’m still on the sour end about it.”
The Golden Eagle defense could not match the play of its offense. Quarterback Blake Bortles led the Knights’ offensive attack, which tallied 454 yards and controlled the ball for more than 34 minutes. Bortles accounted for 272 passing yards as he completed 67 percent of his passes.
An opponent’s running game once again gave Southern Miss problems. Central Florida scored all five touchdowns on the ground. Bortles ran for two, running back Latavius Murray added two and the game’s leading rusher Storm Johnson added another. Through the air, UCF wide receiver J.J. Worton set a career-high with 117 receiving yards on eight catches.
Last week, Southern Miss gave up a score with six seconds left before halftime. This week the Knights scored a touchdown with five seconds left in the second quarter. Late second quarter scores have become a painful trend for the Eagles. They also allowed East Carolina to score a field goal as time expired before halftime in week two. Nebraska and Louisville both scored touchdowns within the last two minutes of the first half in their respective games.
Senior linebacker Jamie Collins recorded two more sacks for Southern Miss. Strong safety Emmanuel Johnson led the way with 10 total tackles. Freshman defensive end Wil Freeman joined his fellow freshman in a strong showing with his first career sack.
Alford led the Eagles on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to tie the game. Richard scored on a 14 yard run with 8:38 left in the fourth quarter to bring the score within three points. Two defensive stops later, Southern Miss received the ball with 3:10 left in the game. Alford led a 52 yard drive which ended with a Corey Acosta field goal to tie the game.
After an Eagles’ touchdown on their first possession, Murray took over the game for UCF. He scored on two touchdown runs on the Knights’ two overtime possessions. The running game for Central Florida was too much for the Southern Miss defense in overtime. An Alford interception on the first play of the Eagles’ second overtime possession ended the game and kept Southern winless on the season.
“It’s a tough loss,” Emmanuel Johnson said. “We really thought we had that one. I was proud of the way we fought after being 0-5. This was a chance for us to get back on top. It just didn’t go in our favor. We’re going to come back tomorrow and get better.”