USM ‘D’ is key in win

Published 11:57 am Monday, September 27, 2010

RUSTON, La. — The Nasty Bunch appears to have made its return.

The nickname for Southern Miss’ defense, which goes back to the early 1980s, had been absent during coach Larry Fedora’s first two seasons with the Golden Eagles.

Saturday at Joe Ailett Stadium, the Golden Eagles defense recaptured that Nasty Bunch feel by coming up with two crucial fourth quarter turnovers to preserve a 13-12 win over Louisiana Tech. Southern Miss (3-1) looks forward now to the start of Conference USA play this Saturday at home against Marshall.

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Fedora was glad to see at least one of phase of the game perform well against the Bulldogs (1-3).

“Two phases of the game we weren’t very good in,” Fedora said. “But our defense played really well. They flew around and made plays. They created some turnovers late that were big. I’m happy to have the win.”

Fedora made the commitment last year to stick with a young group of defensive linemen and linebackers. They had some problems, especially in a loss to Middle Tennessee State in the New Orleans Bowl.

On a return trip to Louisiana, the Golden Eagles’ defense showed their promise. They held Louisiana Tech to a field goal in the first half. In the third quarter, Tech ran eight plays and had minus 5 yards in offense. With Tech bottled up, Southern Miss’ offense put up 10 points to take a 13-3 lead into the fourth quarter.

Tech did not do that on their last drive. Down 13-12, they got the ball on their own 10 with 3:48 left. Two runs and a pass got them to midfield. Then the Golden Eagles came up with a play to stop the drive at the USM 25.

On third-and-three Tech quarterback Tarik Hakmi challenged the Golden Eagles’ defense with a deep curl route. Southern Miss safety Justin Wilson cut in front of the Tech receiver and made a leaping interception.