Southern Miss lets first win slip away
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 00:10
Quarterback Ricky Lloyd made the first start of his career against the nationally-ranked Louisville Cardinals on Saturday. On a day when rain fell from the sky in buckets, Lloyd tried to bring a little California sunshine to Hattiesburg. It was not to be, as Louisville sent the Golden Eagles to 0-4 for the first time since 1976 by a score of 21-17.
Southern Miss did have a chance late in the game to pull the upset until a questionable call ended a late drive. Facing a fourth and five on the Louisville 25 yard line, the Golden Eagles rushed running back Desmond Johnson on a sweep to the right. Johnson pulled up and threw it back to Lloyd, who had slipped out the left side of the formation. The ball hung and fluttered in the rain before a Louisville defender helped knock it down, ending any chance of a comeback.
“The reason we thought it was a good call is that they had played man coverage on us the last four pass situations,” said head football coach Ellis Johnson after the game.” Against man coverage, you have the chance for the one guy to be not covered to be the quarterback. It could have been a big play for us if it could have been executed cleanly.”
The Golden Eagles found themselves in that position due to a poor second half by the offense. The first four drives of the second half netted Southern Miss a total of 16 yards. Three of the drives ended in three-and-outs while the fourth ended with a missed field goal. The final drive covered 57 yards before the failed fourth down attempt.
The Southern Miss defense did its best Nasty Bunch impersonation, holding the Cardinals to their lowest point total of the season. Louisville sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was held mostly in check and below his normal passing numbers. Bridgewater finished the game 9-13 passing for 85 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but most of his damage came on the opening drive.
The Eagles’ defense has figured out how to cause turnovers. After zero turnovers in the first two games of the season, Southern Miss has forced three in the last two games. Senior defensive back Reggie Hunt got the Eagles on the board as he took his first career interception back 23 yards to the end zone. Senior Deron Wilson tried to put the game away late in the fourth quarter when he recovered his first career fumble.
Wilson’s fumble could have iced the game, but the offense lost 23 yards on the next three plays before punter Peter Boehme netted six yards on his punt attempt. It took the Cardinals six plays to travel the 22 yards they needed for the game-winning touchdown.
Junior running back Senorise Perry finished his day with that winning touchdown run, his second of the day. Perry led the Louisville rushing attack with 118 yards. Cardinal running back Jeremy Wright chipped in with 84 yards on the day to assist Perry. Both teams relied on their running game to carry their offenses. Louisville rushed 50 times while Southern Miss ran it a season high 48 times for a total of 224 yards. Desmond Johnson led the way for the Eagles with 99 yards on the ground.
Southern Miss will face another nationally-ranked team next weekend when the Boise State Broncos come to Hattiesburg.
“I saw us come together as a team tonight,” Lloyd said after the game. “It’s time to move forward as a team. We came together. That’s one good thing to take from tonight, and that’s what is going to keep us moving forward.”
“We can’t take this game back; we just have to get ready for the next game,” Deron Wilson said at the post-game conference. “You can always turn it around. We haven’t hit conference play yet besides the East Carolina game.”