The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (0-11), faced the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (7-4), and the Blue Raiders outgained the Golden Eagles 418 to 317 in the total yards category. The Blue Raiders also outscored the Eagles 28-7 in the first half. Middle Tennessee finished the game with 42 points to win, 42-21.
The Golden Eagles’ offense started the game off well; the offense moved the ball 64 yards on a drive that lasted almost five minutes, but the drive ended with a missed field goal that went off the left upright. Freshman quarterback Nick Mullens completed three first down passes to three different receivers.
Following the Golden Eagles’ opening the drive, the next drive began to look extremely familiar to what the Southern Miss fans have seen far too often this season. The Blue Raiders’ defense came into the game ranked 3rd in takeaways and did all they could to confuse the young freshman.
A zone blitz forced Mullens to throw an interception right to middle linebacker T.T. Barber, who returned the interception 24 yards for a score. That would be the first of two interceptions returned for a touchdown. Early in the second quarter, Mullens threw his second interception of the game, this one was returned 51 yards for a touchdown.
The Blue Raiders scored 14 points defensively, and that turned out to be the turning point of the game. Take away the two costly interceptions and if junior kicker Corey Acosta had made the 29-yard field goal on the opening drive, the Eagles would have had a 3-0 lead early in the game, along with the defensive stops and the touchdown thrown by Mullens to wide receiver Dominique Sullivan for 10-0 lead. The Golden Eagles could have gone into the half ahead 17-14, if the Eagles had a couple big plays go their way.
The Southern Miss defense started strong forcing the very good Middle Tennessee offense into three punts in a row. The Blue Raiders had a total of 60 yards in their first three drives. Logan Kilgore and the Blue Raiders’ offense struggled to find passing and running lanes. Much like many great offenses, the Blue Raiders adjusted and imposed their will.
MTSU got going in the second half. They only scored 14 points in the second half but after 21 unanswered points, 14 was all that was needed. The Golden Eagles closed the deficit to 14 points at one point in the second half, but couldn’t get any closer.
Southern Miss finished with 371 total yards, 289 yards through the air and only 82 on the ground. The Blue Raiders offense on the other hand, finished the game with 418 total yards. 246 of their yards came on the ground, with 172 coming through the air.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles will have one more game to get in the winning column, as they travel to Birmingham to face UAB at Legion Field. The UAB Blazers are 2-9 this season, the Blazers lost their last game to the Rice Owls in overtime. The Blazers’ wins have come against Northwestern State and the FIU Panthers. This game is the Eagles’ best chance to win since the FIU game, which the Golden Eagles lost by a missed field goal