Regardless of a successful defensive performance, Southern Miss dropped its fifth consecutive game falling to Old Dominion 17-13 Saturday night in Hattiesburg.
The Golden Eagles (1-5, 0-3 Sun Belt) were ahead for the first three quarters but couldn’t hang on in front of a big homecoming crowd.
“We just never really could get it going offensively, even though we played a lot better on defense and special teams,” Southern Miss head coach Will Hall said. “Short-yardage situations we didn’t convert, which is really hard to see because we have been doing better there. For three straight weeks, we are right there it’s something we have to fix. I’m certainly proud of our effort. We played our tails off.”
After holding the Monarchs (3-3, 2-1) to a quick three and out, Golden Eagle punt returner Tiaquelin Mims brought some early excitement to M.M. Roberts Stadium with an 82-yard touchdown return with nine seconds left in the first quarter. That combined with an Andrew Stein field goal gave Southern Miss a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Old Dominion didn’t waste any time getting back in the game. On the opening drive of the second quarter, quarterback Grant Wilson connected with wide receiver Kelby Williams on a 78-yard play. Running back Keshawn Wicks then plunged into the end zone to make it a 10-7 game – a score that would stick going into the half.
Coming out of the locker room, the Golden Eagle’s luck began to dwindle as Mims returned yet another punt for a touchdown, but it was called back after officials said he initially called for a fair catch. The drive subsequently resulted in a field goal to make it a 13-7 game.
The Monarchs held Southern Miss scoreless for the remainder of the game as a touchdown and a field goal in the third quarter would be enough to seal the victory. The Golden Eagles had one last chance late in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs inside the red zone.
Defensively, the “Nasty Bunch” had five sacks, seven tackles for loss, and one fumble recovery. Quarterback Billy Wiles finished with 166 yards on 15 of 26 passing while running back Frank Gore, Jr. added 66 yards on the ground.
Southern Miss will now head into a bye week as Hall and company will look to turn the ship around during the second half of the season. Next up will be an away game against South Alabama on Tuesday, Oct. 17.