Freshman QB Whatley leads USM past Marshall

Published 8:05 pm Saturday, November 3, 2018

HATTIESBURG (AP) — In his first college start, Tate Whatley made quite an impression.

Whatley threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score, Darian Yancey scored on a fumble return, and Southern Miss held off Marshall 26-24 on Saturday.

Whatley’s rushing touchdown, a 1-yard keeper with 7:13 to play, capped a 13-play, 94-yard drive that chewed up 6 minutes, 23 seconds and proved to be the difference. A missed extra point made it 26-17.

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Marshall scored on a 15-yard pass from Isaiah Green to Artie Henry with 1:11 left but the Golden Eagles (4-4, 3-2 Conference USA) recovered the onside kick.

“It’s good to get a break or two. We talked about that at breakfast this morning. I told the guys ‘We are just a team with bad breaks, and sooner or later those quit and start to go your way,’” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. “It always balances out 50-50 in life. You have to keep fighting for that other 50 to show up. When those bad ones hit, you never get the good ones back. It balanced today. Hopefully the next few weeks, we start getting on the plus side.”

Whatley was making his first career start in place of the injured Jack Abraham. The true freshman was 16-of-25 passing for only 134 yards, but did not throw an interception and gained 40 yards on the ground.

“What a competitor. He’s a young man that fought, scratched and clawed,” Hopson said. “The thing about Tate is that he’s a true Southern Miss guy. You saw him get hit a few times and went for an extra yard. He kept plays alive, and for a freshman to come out in his first start and beat Marshall in his first game, I thought it spoke volumes. You’re gonna see young guys like that just get better and better.”

After both teams managed first-quarter field goals, Brenden Knox picked up a Zac Everett fumble and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown to give Marshall a 10-3 lead with 5:04 left in the second quarter.

Whatley connected with Quez Watkins for a 4-yard score to tie the game with 48 seconds left before halftime. The Golden Eagles added another touchdown 15 seconds later when Jacques Turner forced a fumble when he sacked Isaiah Green, allowing Yancey to pick it up and race 17 yards to the end zone to put Southern Miss up 17-10 at the break.

The Thundering Herd (5-3, 3-2) evened the score midway through the third quarter on Anthony Anderson’s 2-yard TD run. Parker Shaunfield’s 23-yard field goal put Southern Miss up 20-17 heading into the final quarter.

The Golden Eagles had just 222 yards of offense, while Marshall managed 249. Marcel Williams had seven catches for 139 yards for Marshall. Watkins finished with five receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown for Southern Miss.

Southern Miss will play at UAB next Saturday at 6:30 p.m.