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Sports Football Southern Miss special teams shine in season opener

Southern Miss special teams shine in season opener

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An 89-yard opening kickoff return by redshirt sophomore Jaylond Adams gave Southern Miss the upper hand against Alcorn State on Aug. 31.

“Jaylond had a great game, but he’s also wise enough to know those guys on the front line — on that kick return and punt return — they’re the guys that set him free,” head coach Jay Hopson said. “I think we have an exceptional bunch of guys those units. We challenged those guys this morning and I think they answered the bell.”

The Alcorn State defense prevailed in the first half as Southern Miss relied on kicker Andrew Stein for two field goals before halftime. Defensive backs DQ Thomas and Ty Williams set the tone for the Golden Eagles racking up a combined 13 tackles and Thomas gaining the team’s only interception of the night. Williams gave all credit to linebacker Racheem Boothe.

“Racheem did a heck of a job, getting into the passing lane and tipping up the ball up and giving me the opportunity to pick the ball off,”Williams said.

Southern Miss shuffled pieces around after running back Trivensky Mosley was injured in the first quarter. Coach Jay Hopson used his “running back by committee” and enlisted Dee Baker and Steven Anderson to carry the load of the offense.

As the second half began, Alcorn rushed for 15 yards to put the Braves on the board. Southern Miss responded with a 55-yard pass from Jack Abraham.

“It was third and long. We were just trying to take a shot. I knew Neil was going to beat him and I knew he was going to give me a chance to throw it up there and let him make a play,” Abraham said.

Alcorn kicked a field goal in an attempt to keep up with the Golden Eagles. Alcorn could not keep up the defensive energy it had in the first half after another Southern Miss touchdown in the last 15 seconds of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Adams returned a punt 80 yards for his second touchdown of the night.

“It just felt great being back out there with those guys. Coming off a season-ending injury and to get into the endzone twice, it feels great,” Adams said. Additionally, Adams had three catches for 21 yards. Stein’s field goal in the fourth quarter resulted in a final score of 38-10.

“He put a big emphasis on special teams. Pretty much coming into the game, that’s all we talked about,”Adams said. “Special teams were going to be a difference-maker in this ball game. We bought in as a team and got the job done.”

Southern Miss travels to Starkville to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs Sept. 7.

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