The Southern Miss football team found its third victory of the season Thursday night, defeating Louisiana 34-31 in an overtime thriller.
Following a field goal by the Ragin’ Cajuns (5-5, 2-4 Sun Belt) in the first series of overtime, Southern Miss (3-7, 2-5) star running back Frank Gore, Jr. answered with a three-yard touchdown to cap off another big night from the junior and secure the Golden Eagles’ second win in a row. Gore finished with 158 rushing yards and three scores as he has now accounted for nearly 600 total yards over the last three games.
With both teams starting slow on offense, Louisiana was the first to break the ice with a first-quarter touchdown run by Dre’lyn Washington. Early in the second, Southern Miss punched back as quarterback Billy Wiles found Gore on an 18-yard dump to tie the game at 7-7.
On the very next drive, the Golden Eagles found the end zone again, this time on a 28-yard run from Kenyon Clay. Louisiana responded with a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 going into halftime.
Turnovers from both teams and near-constant penalties made it tough for either to score in the third quarter. Gore eventually was able to break free in the waning seconds of the period for a 17-yard touchdown run to retake the Southern Miss lead.
Louisiana responded with back-to-back scoring drives in the fourth quarter, with Chandler Fields connecting with Harvey Broussard and Tray’von Colbert, to take the team’s first lead since late in the first quarter. Playing like there was no tomorrow, backup quarterback Ethan Crawford marched the Golden Eagles down the field before finding Jakarius Caston in the end zone on a nine-yard scoring pass to send the game to overtime.
Although Wiles has been the starter for all 10 games this year, head coach Will Hall decided to stick with Crawford in overtime and it paid off. The true freshman finished with 79 total yards and led the charge on the eventual game-winning drive. Wiles had 99 yards on 8 of 13 passing with a touchdown before he was subbed out in the third quarter after a vital fumble just inches from the goal line. After the game, Hall told reporters that the Clemson transfer has also been struggling with a hand injury.
Next up for Southern Miss will be a road game against Mississippi State in Starkville. Kickoff on Nov. 18 is set for 11 a.m.