Southern Miss just couldn’t find a rhythm Saturday night as they lost to Boise State 60-7 and fell to 0-4 on the season.
The Broncos dominated USM from start to finish and the Golden Eagles could not be happier about their three game road trip coming to an end. The Golden Eagles were outscored 140-23 over the road trip.
The key to USM’s struggles was third downs, both offensively and defensively. The offense was 2-13 on third down while Boise was 11-16.
USM has to do a better job on being more efficient on first and second downs. Eight times Saturday night, the offense faced 3rd and 7 or longer and only converted one. Inefficiency on third downs leads to stalled drives.
Boise’s offense just had too many weapons for the Eagles to match up with. Eight Broncos had rushing attempts that led to 229 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Eight different receivers caught passes for the Broncos for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Boise’s high-powered attack racked up 545 total yards and just continually gashed the Southern Miss defense. Broncos’ quarterback Joe Southwick was in the center of all of it as he completed 19-23 passes.
Running back Jay Ajayi led the Broncos with 83 yards rushing and a touchdown. Matt Miller was their leading receiver with five receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Turnovers continued to plague USM and Allan Bridgford in particular, who tossed two more interceptions. Bridgford has now thrown at least two interceptions in every game this season. For the season he has three touchdowns and nine interceptions.
“He’s a good player. Has he played flawless? No. We have to play better around him and play good football. And some of the mistakes he made, like the interception, was a poor decision,” head coach Todd Monken said when asked about Bridgford following the game. “He gives us the best chance to win and he’s only going to get better.
The Eagles’ rushing attack was solid as Kendrick Hardy tallied 80 yards on just 10 attempts. USM just faced too much of a deficit to continue to pluck away with the running game with Boise scoring early and often.
Markeese Triplett led the Golden Eagles receivers with four catches for 54 yards. True freshman Marquise Richard hauled in USM’s only score of the evening.
Richard found the soft spot in the Boise defense in the middle of the field to make the leaping grab. He ran a 12-yard dig route and split the two safeties against Boise’s Cover 2.
Kicker Corey Acosta had a 38-yard field goal blocked by a leaping Boise defender early in the second quarter which would have cut the Broncos’ lead to a touchdown. The blocked field goal was returned all the way back to Southern Miss’ 27-yard line by sophomore cornerback Donte Deayon.
This played turned the tide of the game and allowed Boise St. to capture the momentum. Southwick threw a touchdown four plays later and the Broncos never looked back.
Luckily for USM, they start conference play this weekend and return home to play Florida International. FIU has an identical record at 0-4, but have played as bad as any team in the country. Their offense averages just 5.8 points a game while their defense allows 46.8 points a game.
The Golden Panthers are coming off a 72-0 loss at the hands of Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals. The game got so out of hand that the two teams agreed to having a running clock. FIU managed only 30 total yards offensively in the game.
“We need to find a way to win regardless of who we are playing. Because there was a number of things we did tonight that were irrespective of Boise,” Monken said regarding a question about FIU. “That’s the thing that bothers me the most as a coach, I thought our effort was really good, but we need to do things better as a staff.”
This Saturday appears to be a prime opportunity for USM to end their 16-game losing streak. They will kickoff at 3 p.m. at The Rock.