Southern Miss may have lost 55-14 to the East Carolina Pirates, but the fact that the Golden Eagles were able to move the ball and get two touchdowns late in the game shows that the players have not packed it in for the season. The Eagles defense was able to hold the Pirates scoreless in the fourth quarter. Although by time the fourth quarter came around the defense was facing ECU’s reserves.
The ECU Pirates were able to gain 476 total yards on the Eagles defense, 354 of those yards came through the air against a solid pass defense. Quarterback Steve Carden was able to complete 30 of his 37 passes, connecting with Justin Hardy on 10 of those completions. Hardy was able to gain 126 receiving yards while adding 105 yards in the return game, gaining a total of 231 yards in all. The Pirates also rushed well as they gained 122 rushing yards, only one yard more than the Golden Eagles offense. Carden was responsible for four of the team’s seven touchdowns, three passing and one rushing.
The Southern Miss offense showed fans some good things and some things that they are tired of seeing. Quarterback Allan Bridgford threw 11 passes and only connected on two of them before being replaced by fresh face freshman Nick Mullens. Mullens threw an interception, which fans have started to anticipate. Along with that lone mistake Mullens threw for two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. On the first touchdown, Mullens connected with Marquise Ricard on a 15-yard touchdown with 11:38 left in the game. Pirates fans applauded the offense as they celebrated their first touchdown of the game. Later in the quarter, the Eagles were able to score again. Mullens connected with fullback Bruce Johnson for an 8-yard touchdown. Mullens showed the ability to lead a team that knew what the outcome would be long before the clock hit zeros. Mullens limited mistakes and showed the capability to make something out of nothing outside of the pocket. Mullens pulled the ball down to run five times for 17 yards.
The Golden Eagles rushing game showed its physical side as running back Tyre Bracken delivered several stiff arms and ended a few runs by initiating contact. In football, you are either going to be the hammer or the nail, Tyre Bracken decided to be the hammer. Bracken’s play should inspire the team as whole, to start “bringing the wood” to opponents because that is what Bracken did. The team as a whole finished with 121 yards, Bracken ended the game as the leading rusher.
The Southern Miss defense struggled against the many weapons of ECU’s offense. The Pirates were able to pass and rush at will. The Eagles defense was just over matched and forced to defense shorter fields because of Hardy’s ability to flip the field with one touch of the ball. The Eagles defense barely laid a hand on Carden throughout the game but were able to record a sack on him.
Coach Todd Monken is still getting the most out of his players even when the outcome is no longer in question. Mullens’ two touchdowns showed that. Along with Mullens’ touchdown passes, senior Dasmin McCollum forced a sack-fumble late in the game. The players are still playing for each other and the coaches as they struggle to win their first game in almost two years.