Golden Eagles improve to 2-1 after road win over ULM

Ito Smith offensive player of the week. Photo: Kenyatta S. Ross, Photo Editor

Ito Smith’s career-high 219 rushing yards led Southern Miss to a 28-17 win over the University of Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night.

Backup quarterback Keon Howard started at wide receiver on Saturday. With tight end Julian Allen sitting out and defensive back Picasso Nelson out for the season due to injury, things shifted around the board.

Southern Miss scored its first touchdown on an opening drive when quarterback Kwadra Griggs found wide receiver Korey Robertson for a 15-yarder. The Golden Eagle defense was locked in for the majority of the first quarter, rounding things out with an 7-0 lead.

Early in the second, ULM finished a drive where the Southern Miss defense began to break down with ULM’s quarterback Caleb Evans’ half- yard sneak, tying the game at seven.

In response, Smith put his skills on display as his elusiveness led him to a 27-yard touchdown to regain the lead on the ensuing drive.

“That was good to see him make some great runs,” said Head Coach Jay Hopson. “That’s the thing about Ito, you think he’s tackled, and he pops out and there he goes, he’s down the sideline for 50 [yards].”

Later in the second, Craig Ford nailed a 19-yard field goal for ULM to cut the lead down, 14-10. However, with less than two minutes remaining in the half Griggs found Robertson once again for a 20-yard touchdown that allowed the Golden Eagles to carry a 21-10 lead into the break.

Things were quiet for the first few minutes of the third quarter, but Evans eventually reignited ULM’s efforts with
a 67-yard breakaway score. Nevertheless, Southern Miss answered again quickly as Griggs found wide receiver Allenzae Staggers for a 42-yard touchdown.

The fourth quarter stalled on both sides but Southern Miss held on to secure their win. Griggs finished the game 17-of-32 with 250 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

“Look, a win’s a win in this deal,” Hopson said. “Certainly, we know we can play better and that’s going to be our journey, to play better.”

Southern Miss will take the next weekend off as it prepares for its next home game against North Texas on Sept. 30.