Southern Miss beats ULL in New Orleans Bowl

Published 12:51 am Sunday, December 18, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Allenzae Staggers set New Orleans Bowl records with 11 catches for 230 yards and also scored a touchdown to help Southern Miss beat Louisiana-Lafayette 28-21 on Saturday night.

Nick Mullens, the Southern Miss all-time leader in yards passing and passing touchdowns, finished his distinguished career by throwing for 346 yards and two TDs.

One of Mullens’ TD tosses was a 6-yarder to running back Ito Smith, who also rushed for 138 yards and two scores.

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However, Mullens’ turnovers helped the Ragin’ Cajuns keep the game competitive despite the Golden Eagles (7-6) outgaining ULL 481 yards to 252.

Mullens’ second-quarter fumble and fourth-quarter interception both led to Cajuns touchdowns, the latter on a short run by ULL quarterback Anthony Jennings that trimmed Southern Miss’ lead to 28-21 with 5:10 to go.

ULL got the ball back once more, starting on its own 18-yard line with 2:02 to go, but Jennings overthrew a fourth-down pass as he rolled right.

That misfire capped a drive in which the Cajuns (6-7) ran the ball three times and twice faced fourth down situations without crossing midfield.

Jennings scored twice on runs for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who often struggled to move the ball through the air. A transfer who once started for LSU, Jennings completed 8 of 20 passes for 95 yards. He was intercepted once — by Tarvarius Moore on the Southern Miss goal line — and sacked six times.

Mullens completed his first three passes for 127 yards and a touchdown to Smith, who also rushed for the game’s opening TD as the Golden Eagles took a 14-0 lead inside the first 8 minutes.
ULL methodically pulled itself back into the game, starting when Jennings scored on a 4-yard run to make it 14-7.

In the second quarter, Tre’maine Lightfoot’s sack and strip of Mullens was scooped and returned 15 yards by Otha Peters to the Southern Miss 29, setting up a tying 12-yard TD run by reserve QB Dion Ray, who periodically ran plays out of a “wildcat” formation.