The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (3-3, 2-1 C-USA) made their long-anticipated return to The Rock on Saturday, defeating the University of Texas-San Antonio (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) 27-17 for a victory on homecoming.
In a game full of career highs, along with yet another efficient passing performance from redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham, Southern Miss constructed a big advantage on the scoreboard early on that proved too great for the Roadrunners to overcome. Head Coach Jay Hopson said that after a long, three-week road trip, it felt good to be back at M.M. Roberts Stadium for a football game.
“It’s always good to be at The Rock,” Hopson said. “It’s just fun to be at home, especially for homecoming. It’s a good win, and we’re certainly going to enjoy this one tonight.”
Sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham was red hot in the opening quarter, completing seven of eight passes for 64 yards. The running back tandem of freshman Trivenskey Mosley and redshirt freshman Steven Anderson combined for 88 yards on the ground in the quarter, nearly surpassing Southern Miss’ season average of 98 rushing yards per game. Despite the success, both through the air and on the ground, the Golden Eagles were forced to settle for two short-distance field goals by redshirt senior Parker Shaunfield, who succeeded in making both to give them a 6-0 lead entering the second period.
The Roadrunners saw their first taste of success on offense early in the second quarter with a 43-yard read option run by junior Matt Guidry, bringing them deep into Southern Miss territory. However, the Golden Eagles’ defense stood its ground on a third and goal play from inside the two-yard line, and the Roadrunners settled for a field goal to narrow the deficit to 6-3.
On the ensuing kickoff, junior speedster De’Michael Harris returned the ball 79-yards to the UTSA 21-yard line. The return was the longest for Southern Miss since 2015, when Jalen Richard returned a kick 95 yards for a score against Charlotte. The offense capitalized off the momentum from the return, and Anderson scored the first touchdown of the night on a two-yard rush to extend the Southern Miss lead to 10 points. With just four seconds left in the first half, Abraham connected with senior receiver Jordan Mitchell on a 6-yard slant pass for another score to give Southern Miss a 20-3 lead at the break.
After fielding the opening kick of the third quarter, Southern Miss came out with even more intensity than what they showed in the first, capping off a five-play 63-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Abraham to jump ahead 27-3. While glancing over stats in his postgame press interview, Abraham chuckled and noted that his 28 yards on the ground was a career-high total.
The Southern Miss offense was able to penetrate enemy territory twice more in the third quarter, but both drives ended with turnovers on fumbles committed by receivers. One of those turnovers led to a long drive for UTSA that ended with a touchdown pass. The last points of the night were scored on an eight-yard interception return by Roadrunners defensive back C.J. Levine. A tipped pass by Abraham out of his own end zone fell helplessly into the hands of the defender, who crossed the goal line untouched for the pick six. Southern Miss held on the rest of the way in the fourth quarter for the 27-17 victory.
Abraham finished the game with an impressive 28 completions on 33 attempts for 269 yards, six carries for 28 yards, and two total touchdowns. Sophomore receiver Tim Jones led the receiving corps in production, catching seven passes for 107 yards on the evening.
The biggest star of the night was Mosley, who had quite a night to remember in the absence of redshirt senior Tez Parks, who was unable to play due to an ankle injury. Mosley finished with 26 carries for 147 yards to go along with three receptions for 38 yards. Steven Anderson also posted a rushing total of 51 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Southern Miss’ 218 rushing yards was without question the team’s best ground performance of the season.
“My O-line and receivers were blocking well,” Mosley said. “My coaches called the right plays, and I just did my job. We had a lot of fun.”
Now with a 3-3 overall record and a 2-1 record in division play, the Golden Eagles will hit the road again for a game against the Charlotte 49ers. Coach Hopson and the team will be looking for their first road win of the season and a chance to stay amongst the top teams in the C-USA standings as November approaches and conference play heats up.