Despite Southern Miss putting up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, missed opportunities early on and poor tackling throughout the game hurt the Golden Eagles in a 37-31 loss to Middle Tennessee State on the road Saturday night.
USM struggled once again with dropped passes in clutch situations and continued to put themselves in long third downs. The poor execution along with missed tackles on defense and not capitalizing on opportunities kept USM from earning a victory.
“It was a great win,” said MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill. “Southern Miss is definitely an improved team from last year. We knew it was going to be a fourth quarter game and it was a great win.”
Golden Eagle quarterback Nick Mullens had a great day, throwing for 426 yards and three touchdowns that all came in the fourth quarter. He also threw one critical interception early on in the game. It was Mullens’ eighth game throwing for more than 200 yards in his career.
Michael Thomas put on a strong performance, recording his first 100-yard game of his career on nine receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns. George Payne led the team in rushing with 24 carries for 89 yard and one touchdown.
Statistically, Southern Miss (2-4) won the game in some categories, including first downs 30-22, third downs going 12-for-19. However, MTSU (4-2) had more total yards for the game with 583 in comparison to 527 by Southern Miss.
Not only did Southern Miss give up 583 yards of total offense, the team allowed the Blue Raiders offense to remain on the field in third down situations. MTSU went 6-for-12 on third downs. Blue Raiders quarterback Austin Grammer had a productive day, throwing for 332 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense for the Golden Eagles, Trae Collins recovered his first fumble of his career with 11:27 left in the third quarter. Dasman McCullum recorded his third forced fumble of the season and linebacker Brian Anderson had a team-high 11 tackles.
Southern Miss will have a week off and return to action on Oct. 18 on the road against North Texas. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.