Southern Miss hits a new low in 55-3 loss to South Alabama

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

MOBILE, Ala. — Southern Miss’ players and coaches stopped short of saying their latest loss in an increasingly dreadful season was rock bottom. It was clear, though, that it was definitely a new low.

La’Damian Webb ran for 102 yards and had four of South Alabama’s seven rushing touchdowns as the Jaguars crushed Southern Miss 55-3 on Tuesday night.

South Alabama set program records for margin of victory over a Division I team and first downs in a game for the second consecutive week. The Jaguars (4-3, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference), who had 32 first downs in their 55-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe last week, had 34 on Tuesday.

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“It’s obvious they kicked our butt in every way. We didn’t do much of anything in any phase,” Southern Miss head coach Will Hall said.

Southern Miss (1-6, 0-4) suffered its worst conference loss in program history and extended its losing streak to six in a row. The Golden Eagles haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in their last two games.

The seven rushing touchdowns by South Alabama also tied a record for the most Southern Miss has ever allowed in a game.

South Alabama passed for 360 yards and ran for 287. It outgained Southern Miss 647 yards to 149.

Southern Miss was 1-for-13 on first down. Its only points came a 32-yard field goal by Andrew Stein with 5:40 left in the third quarter. That 10-play, 61-yard drive and another 65-yard march on their last possession accounted for most of the Golden Eagles’ yardage. The latter ended with a fumble at the 29-yard line with less than a minute to go.

“We’ve had two games in a row where we didn’t move the ball very good offensively,” Hall said. “We had some things there. We had some drops at critical times that would’ve been big, explosive plays. We had some plays where we didn’t hit them quite as good, we didn’t read them correctly. I thought they kicked our butt in the trenches on both sides of the ball.”

Webb scored on runs of 5 and 3 yards in the first quarter and another 5-yarder early in the second before Kentrel Bullock added a 17-yard touchdown run that made it 28-0 with 7:03 left before halftime.

The Jaguars scored TDs on each of their first four possessions, the first three of which were at least 10 plays and 75-plus yards. Webb made it 41-3 when he scored his fourth touchdown, from 16 yards out, with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter.

Webb’s fourth rushing touchdown tied the school record he set last season against Georgia Southern. He has a rushing TD in six consecutive games.

“We didn’t tackle well, first of all. It just seemed like there was one guy out of gap almost every play,” said Southern Miss linebacker Swayze Bozeman, who had a team-high 12 tackles. “Kind of the theme of our season has been we have 10 guys do it right and when the one guy doesn’t you get exposed. I think that’s what happened a lot tonight.”

Although the Jags did not find the end zone via the passing game, Carter Bradley still completed 21 of 27 passes for 319 yards. He became the first quarterback in South Alabama history to throw for 300 yards or more in five games.

Bradley’s top targets were Caullin Lacy and Jamaal Pritchett. Lacy extended his streak of 100-yard receiving games to six, and Pritchett recorded a career-best 122 yards.

“Arguably our most dominant performance since I’ve been here,” South Alabama coach Kane Wommack said. “I thought our guys were really starting to lean into how we’re supposed to start the game. I would argue four of our last five games, offensively, we’ve really come out playing well, doing our job, being consistent.”

Hall said injuries that have ravaged the Golden Eagles’ secondary contributed to South Alabama’s success in the passing game. Safety Jay Stanley, the team’s second-leading tackler and a senior leader on the defense, did not play Tuesday and is one of six defensive backs who have missed some time because of injuries.

“We’re extremely thin on defense. We’ve lost five DBs and then Jay Stanley was out, that’s six DBs since the start of the year. They did a good job exposing that and taking advantage of that,” Hall said.

Southern Miss has not won since its season opener against FCS member Alcorn State. The Tuesday night game — the first in program history, thanks to the Sun Belt’s TV contracts with ESPN — will give the Golden Eagles some extra time to figure things out. They don’t play again until Oct. 28 at Appalachian State.

Southern Miss played in a bowl game last season, but will need to win its last five games this year just to become bowl-eligible.

“I have every bit of confidence in Coach Hall. Coach Hall isn’t the one missing tackles or getting out of gap or anything like that. He’s getting us in the position we need to be in on offense and defense. We’re not playing up to our potential,” Bozeman said. “I would tell fans to keep believing and don’t give up on Coach Hall. What he’s telling us to do is good stuff, we’re just not executing. Don’t put it on Coach Hall, put it on us.”