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Southern Miss Defeat Louisiana 39-24 in Thursday Night Clash

The USM defense forced four turnovers to improve to 5-3 on the season.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Northwestern State at Southern Miss Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles picked up their fifth win of the season with an impressive performance in a 39-24 home win against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. USM were pegged by 2.5-point underdogs headed into this one by many major sports books, per

Southern Miss scored three touchdowns in the first quarter of the game while Louisiana netted only a field goal in the closing seconds of the opening period.

The second quarter proved to be more entertaining. Louisiana got two points back on a safety. USM would promptly answer with a touchdown pass from Zach Wilcke to Jason Brownlee.

Brownlee finished the game with three catches for 102 yards and two touchdown catches. That moved him to 19 touchdown grabs in his college career, the fourth most in USM history.

On the Cajuns’ ensuing drive, Ben Wooldridge was able to retaliate with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jefferson. The extra point attempt would be blocked.

Southern Miss once again made use of the “Superback” system, putting running back Frank Gore Jr. in the backfield by himself on a number of occasions. Gore finished with 23 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown pass.

Zach Wilcke finished eight of 17 for 137 yards and two touchdowns through the air and an interception.

In the third quarter, Louisiana seemed to find their stride while Southern Miss seemed to lose theirs. That moment lasted about five minutes.

The Cajuns’ had a lost fumble, a turnover on downs, and an interception on three of their first four drives of the second half. Louisiana did get a six play, 85-yard touchdown drive put together to close the third quarter, but their two-point conversion attempt was intercepted and nearly returned for a touchdown by Southern Miss.

Southern Miss would kick a field goal with 10:30 left in the game to extend their lead. Louisiana would then go on a 14-play, 56-yard drive that lasted six minutes and 19 seconds and resulted in a turnover on downs. The Cajuns caught a break shortly after though, as their defense would force and recover a fumble inside Southern Miss’ ten-yard line. This allowed them a chance to punch in a rushing touchdown from one yard out. This time, they converted the extra point.

That would be the final offensive score of the game though as the Southern Miss defense forced an interception (which was returned for a touchdown) and a turnover on downs on Louisiana’s final two possessions of the game.

Southern Miss finished this game a perfect 3-3 on red zone trips. The Golden Eagles, 5-3, now have their highest win total in a season since going 7-6 in 2019 under Jay Hopson.

Southern Miss will get to remain in Hattiesburg next week (November 5) when Georgia State comes to town for USM’s Salute To Armed Forces games. Louisiana will return home to Lafayette to host Troy for the Cajuns’ Senior Night next Saturday.