Southern Miss (3-4, 2-2 C-USA) continued its C-USA stretch against Charlotte (4-4, 2-2 C-USA) in what turned out to be a day filled with struggles for the Golden Eagles’ offensive unit.
“We didn’t execute at a high enough level, but we fought, we fought for 60 minutes and gave ourselves a chance to get back in it,” Southern Miss Head Coach Jay Hopson said. “[Quarterback] Tate [Whatley] came in and did some really good things. We got back down 20-17 and we went for the onside kick, and we fought till the end and that’s what I love about our football team, is we fight until the end. Just a lot of missed executions today.”
With the final score being 20-17 in favor of Charlotte, the Southern Miss offense had trouble with the Charlotte defense throughout the day. Despite completing 21-of-30 passes for 210 yards, Southern Miss redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham threw three interceptions before leaving the game due to an injury at the end of the third quarter. Freshman Tate Whatley replaced Abraham at quarterback for the fourth quarter.
The Golden Eagles’ defense has been the talk throughout the season; keeping them in most games they have played in. Indeed, the Southern Miss defense held Charlotte to just 224 yards of total offense in the game, including only 78 yards passing through the air.
However, the Southern Miss offense has struggled on the road all season and it continued in the loss to Charlotte. Early in the game, the defense did struggle but held its composure throughout the remainder of the game.
After Charlotte scored first off of a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Hassan Klugh on the first drive of the game, Abraham threw an interception that was returned 79-yards for a score at the end of the first quarter, making the score 14-0 in favor of Charlotte.
Offensive line struggles have been an issue all season and this game wasn’t any different for the Golden Eagles. The line allowed three sacks against the Charlotte defensive line in the contest. Sophomore Paul Gainer again got the start at right tackle and redshirt sophomore Arvin Fletcher started at center. However, freshman center Trace Clopton did see action in the game.
It was not until the second half that Southern Miss found an identity on offense.
After a Charlotte field goal on the opening drive of the second half extended its lead to 17-0, the Golden Eagles got on board on the next offensive drive with an 11-play drive that resulted in a 38-yard field goal from redshirt senior Parker Shaunfield.
After the Abraham injury, Whatley helped the team score with two passing touchdowns to junior De’Michael Harris and redshirt junior Jordan Mitchell in the final quarter. Charlotte added another field goal after the Harris touchdown, but the touchdown to Mitchell cut the Charlotte lead to 20-17. However, the 49ers were able to run out the clock following a failed onside kick attempt following the Mitchell touchdown to seal the win.
On the ground, the Golden Eagles had 129 rushing yards on 34 attempts. Whatley led all Southern Miss runners with 62 yards on 8 carries. Freshman running back Trivenskey Mosley had 37 yards on the ground, while redshirt freshman Steven Anderson had 30 yards on five carries.
Southern Miss is set for another C-USA showdown next Saturday, this time at home as they take on Marshall. Kickoff will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 3.