Southern Miss was forced to relinquish the trophy in its recently renewed rivalry game against Tulane, falling to the Green Wave 21-3 in Saturday afternoon’s Battle for the Bell.
The Golden Eagles, coming off a bad loss to No. 3 Florida State, found the scoreboard just once on a field goal from Andrew Stein as the offense sputtered for a second week in a row.
“I have a lot of respect for Tulane’s head coach (Willie Fritz) and that staff,” said Southern Miss head coach Will Hall, who served as Fritz’s offensive coordinator from 2019-20 before accepting the job in Hattiesburg. “We just didn’t execute during the game.”
Hall pointed out in his post-game press conference that the Golden Eagles were able to manage 15 first downs, which made for a handful of long drives, but were never able to finish.
“We came close a few times, but we had a few penalties that or dropped passes that just weren’t in favor of us.” Hall continued. “I take full responsibility of that, and we have conference play coming up in seven days. We have to be prepared in order to win the Sun Belt West.”
For the second week in a row, Tulane was without star quarterback Michael Pratt as Houston transfer Kai Horton got the start under center. Horton, who handled Pratt’s absence with ease, led the offense down the field on the opening drive and ended it with a one-yard touchdown run.
Horton found the end zone through the air on Tulane’s other two scoring drives, hitting Jha’Quan Jackson on a 35-yard pass and Chris Brazzell II on a three-yard pass. Both of those scores came in the third quarter.
The Green Wave (2-1) defense rushed Golden Eagle quarterback Billy Wiles effectively most of the night with two sacks and numerous pressures. Wiles finished with 177 yards passing and had 19 completions, but the running game failed to eclipse the 40-yard mark.
Defensively, Southern Miss stopped the Green Wave for most of the first half, holding them only to the opening score. Safety Jay Stanley had 10 tackles while the unit as a whole finished with three sacks and six tackles for loss. Neither team had any turnovers.
Offensively, Jakarius Caston had two catches for 54 yards and Latreal Jones pulled in seven receptions for 46 yards. Frank Gore, Jr. was only able to net 16 yards on 13 carries, averaging a little over one yard per run.
Next up for Southern Miss (1-2) will be a road matchup against Arkansas State. Kickoff in Jonesboro is set for 6:30 p.m.