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The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Running game, defense snuff bowl possibilities

Southern Mississippi Athletics

When two teams without a conference win meet, something has to give. In the case of ULM and Southern Miss, ULM’s offense gave in early and failed to recover.

Three first-quarter turnovers by ULM (2-7; 0-6 Sun Belt Conference) in Hattiesburg, Mississippi allowed Southern Miss (2-7; 1-5) to put up 17 straight points, effectively icing the competition. Two of the turnovers resulted in one-play touchdowns for the Golden Eagles. 

The early-and-often scoring in the first quarter marked the only first-half points for either team. A second-half touchdown by each school knotted the final score at 24-7, leading to the seventh consecutive loss for the Warhawks on the season.

“You can see what happens when you do the things that make it almost impossible to win a football game,” ULM coach Terry Bowden said.

Quarterback Blake Murphy received the start for the second week in a row, but his outing ended less than stellar. The freshman signal caller created three giveaways for the Golden Eagles, all in the first half. Bowden benched Murphy after he went 7-of-17 for 81 yards and three interceptions.

As ULM and Southern Miss both struggled to maintain offense in the later stages, the early miscues resulting in one-play scores were the top of Bowden’s concerns. 

“The defense gives up two deep balls,” Bowden said. “A double pass that got behind us and then the safety and corner ran into each other. A typical 15-yard catch goes for 80. That puts you behind the eight ball.”

Jiya Wright returned to the game and completed a pass for the first time in two weeks, including ULM’s lone score — a 68-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Dariyan Wiley.  Wright threw 5-of-12 for 106 yards with no interceptions, but he did lose a fumble.

Southern Miss’s defense stifled ULM’s momentum with the ball, limiting ULM to a mere 10 first downs. 

After the Golden Eagles jumped out to a three-score lead in under 15 minutes, they dominated the time of possession largely in part to a run game that eclipsed 200 yards rushing. 

Frank Gore Jr. reestablished himself as a premiere running back in the conference as he finished his afternoon having compiled 131 yards rushing and a score on the ground for Southern Miss.

With seven losses dousing any bowl game aspirations, ULM faces Troy (7-2; 4-1) at Malone Stadium on Saturday. 

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