Troy slips past USM in shootout

Published 12:15 am Sunday, September 18, 2016

HATTIESBURG (AP) — Southern Miss’ early-season winning streak ended at the goal line.

Jordan Chunn rushed for 176 yards and a touchdown, and Ryan Kay kicked three field goals as Troy held on to beat Southern Miss 37-31 Saturday night at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

Troy (2-1) rebounded from last week’s six-point loss at then-No. 2 Clemson. Kay hit from 42 yards early in the third quarter to break a 24-24 tie, and the Trojans extended the lead to 34-24 on Chunn’s 39-yard run.

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Nick Mullens closed the gap for Southern Miss (2-1) with a 16-yard TD pass to Allenzae Staggers late in the third quarter. Mullens completed 24 of 52 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown. He had the Golden Eagles at the 9-yard line with three seconds left, but was unable to connect with Isaiah Jones in the end zone as time expired.

Southern Miss had driven from its own 22-yard line in the last 93 seconds to get in position for a shot at the game-winning touchdown.

Staggers caught three passes for 52 yards on the final drive, as the Golden Eagles converted once on third down and once on fourth down. Staggers finished with six receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown.

“It was a few positive yards to get us started and then those kind of situations, once you get a few plays and rhythm, then you start getting closer to the end zone so it’s just a matter of finding that zone, that pocket. At that point you have a chance and we had a chance with the last play and a guy got underneath that route and I could’ve made a little bit better throw but at that point you’re just trying to make the best play and hope it works out,” Mullens said of the final drive. “It’s good we showed fight but we should’ve have never been in that situation. You can give a team, 17 or 14 points point early in the game because that comes back to haunt you. Coach hop says you get what you deserve. We deserve every bit of what we got.”

Southern Miss’ Ito Smith had 131 rushing yard. He ended the first half and started the second with TDs — the latter a 70-yard run — as Southern Miss rallied to tie at 24.

Troy’s defense broke up 10 passes, forced three turnovers and had a season-high eight three-and-outs.

Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers was only 10-of-27 passing for 123 yards, but threw three touchdown passes in the first half.

Devonta Foster had a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter for Southern Miss (2-1), which missed a chance to start 3-0 for the first time since 2009.

“As a coach, you’re proud of the fight. That’s the reality of it. You gave yourself a chance to win it at the end,” said Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson, a Vicksburg native. “It felt like everything that could go wrong went wrong. We certainly gave ourselves the chance to win at the end. That’s something you have to be proud of.”

Southern Miss will go on the road to face UTEP next week in its C-USA opener.