Playing at home for the second week in a row to start the season, the Southern Miss football team lost a close contest to the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, 21-20.
“For the most part, I thought we didn’t play good today,” Southern Miss Head Coach Jay Hopson said. “That’s my fault. If there’s one guy you’re going to blame, blame me.”
Sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham and sophomore wide receiver Jaylond Adams put the Golden Eagles on the board on the first play from scrimmage. Adams scored on a 75-yard shovel pass from Abraham to put the team up early. However, ULM tied the game up when Abraham fumbled the ball at the five-yard line on the next Southern Miss offensive possession which resulted in ULM junior defensive end Sam Miller recovering the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Later in the first quarter, Abraham threw his first interception of the season to Warhawks senior cornerback Marcus Hubbard. That interception led to ULM quarterback Caleb Evans connecting with wide receiver Marcus Green for a 49-yard touchdown pass to put ULM ahead over Southern Miss 14-7. After the touchdown, however, Southern Miss chipped away at ULM’s lead. On the next offensive possession, Southern Miss’ senior kicker Parker Shaunfield hit a 42-yard field goal to cut the game to 14-10.
In the second quarter, the Golden Eagles took the lead back when Abraham connected with sophomore wide receiver Quez Watkins on a five-yard touchdown pass, giving them the 17-14 advantage heading into halftime.
ULM regained the lead at the beginning of the third quarter on another Evans touchdown pass to Green. Southern Miss cut the Warhawks’ lead again with a 47-yard field goal and closed the game to one point with ULM leading 21-20.
That lead eventually turned out to be the final score, but not after two miscues by the Golden Eagles in the fourth quarter that could have potentially led to points. After missing a field goal wide left from 53-yards out in the second quarter, Shaunfield missed another field goal wide left from 49-yards out with 5:42 left to play. Southern Miss had one last chance to drive down the field for points following a ULM punt with 1:27 left to play, but Abraham was intercepted by ULM linebacker Cortez Sisco on the ninth play of the drive to end Southern Miss’ chances of coming away with the win.
ULM’s defense put pressure on Abraham and the Southern Miss offensive line during the game. The Warhawks recorded five sacks and seven tackles for loss in the game. Abraham finished the game 31-of-46 for 378 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles lost.
“We went out there and made too many mental mistakes,” Abraham said. “We didn’t execute to the top of our ability. We’ve got to move on, focus on [Appalachian State] now and dish it out.”
In the receiving corps, Adams finished with 158 yards on nine receptions along with the one touchdown. Watkins led the team in receptions with 11 and had 81 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The running game also had trouble finding momentum on the ground. Seniors Tez Parks and T’Rod Daniels split time in the backfield. Parks had 42 yards on 17 carries, while Daniels had 32 yards on eight carries. Overall, the team finished with 58 yards of total rushing.
“Yeah, we didn’t run the ball well,” Hopson said. “Again, we’ve got to be better than that. They stuffed our run game. As coaches and players, we’ve got to come to work next week and we better get better there for sure.”
Southern Miss now heads into its first road contest of the season against Appalachian State (1-1). The Mountaineers earned their first win of the season with a 45-9 win over Charlotte. Kickoff in Boone, North Carolina is set for 2:30 p.m. central time on Sep.15.
Check out the photo gallery from the game: