First off, I predicted USM to win 33-27. They won 34-27. Yay me?
Both defenses stood up in this game. After trading field goals in the first quarter, each team got an offensive touchdown in the second. The difference at halftime was a pick six, as Louisiana Tech’s Darryl Lewis took a Keon Howard pass the other way. After a pair of third quarter field goals by Southern Miss and a forth quarter kick by Tech, the Golden Eagles fumbled on the goal line in the middle of the fourth quarter. La Tech went right down the field and scored a touchdown that seemed to put the game on ice with Tech leading 27-16 with 4:08 to play.
However, Southern Miss would march down and get a field goal, an onside kick, a touchdown, and a two point conversion to tie the game with under a minute to play. With three second left, Tech decided to try a 64 yard (that’s not a typo) field goal. Seems ridiculous, but Jonathan Barnes has a strong leg and the wind was in his favor. It got pretty close but fell short, and overtime it was.
In the first overtime period, J’Mar Smith was picked off by Tarvarius Moore and that seemed to seal it. After all, Southern Miss just needed a field goal. But the Golden Eagles inexplicably put the ball in the air and Amik Robertson got the interception off Keon Howard. In the second extra period, Southern Miss scored in one play with a pass to Korey Robertson. That was USM’s first lead of the game. La Tech could get nothing going in response, and were stopped on 4th down to give Southern Miss the win.
Both defense played well, but the Bulldog offense was just inept, other than on a few drives. Southern Miss had twice the first downs (30 to 15). Tech went 2-12 on 3rd down. The Dawgs actually ran the ball pretty well, getting 161 rushing yards, but got only 194 passing yards. Southern Miss possessed the ball for almost 41 minutes, while Tech had it for 34. As well as the defense played, Tech’s offense just couldn’t stay on the field.
If I told you Ito Smith was pretty quiet, would you have thought USM would still win? Smith got 48 yards on 14 carries, but he did have a receiving touchdown. Korey Robertson got two, including the game winner.
Keon Howard threw 32/53 for 301 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. By comparison, Tech’s J’Mar Smith threw 11/28 for 194 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Boston Scott was on fire for the Dawgs, getting 11 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Out of the bye week, La Tech clearly had made the decision to be a running team. The passing game was just inept. J’Mar Smith underthrew way too many receivers, including easy layups. One such throw in the second overtime would have made it 4th and short instead of 4th and forever on the final play, but Smith one-hopped it. He looked so promising after last year, but he hasn’t looked the part in 2017.
Keon Howard has drawn some criticism, and he wasn’t perfect. But 301 yards on the road and three touchdowns is nothing to scoff at, even with the two picks. Kwadra Griggs was throwing on the sideline, so he was probably available, but Jay Hopson seems to be prepared to let Howard lead this team.
Louisiana Tech falls to 3-4, 1-2 in C-USA play. With North Texas losing to Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss isn’t out of the division title race just yet. They are now 5-2, 3-1 in C-USA.