The Southern Miss football team used a balanced offense and tough defense to defeat North Texas on the road, 30-20, Saturday evening.
The Golden Eagles claimed their first win on the road and in conference play for the season.
Southern Miss scored first in the game. Quarterback Nick Mullens threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Thomas to give the Golden Eagles a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Then, following three possessions that included a punt by North Texas, a Mullens interception and another punt by the Mean Green, the Golden Eagle kicker Corey Acosta converted on a 38-yard field goal to increase the lead to 10-0 for Southern Miss.
Although down 10-0, the Mean Green would step it up a notch. On the next drive, North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty threw a 45-yard pass reception to wide receiver Carlos Harris. Then, to begin the second quarter, Harris ran for 18 yards, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by North Texas running back Antoinnne Jimmerson, cutting the Golden Eagle lead to 10-7.
On the next drive, Mullens threw his second interception of the game that led to a North Texas field goal, knotting the game 10-10. Then, both teams scored field goals to before halftime, making the score 13-13.
In the third, USM received the ball first. On fourth down, punter Tyler Sarrazin made a critical play in the game, faking a punt and rushing for 11 yards to give the Golden Eagles a first down. After a James Cox reception and strong running, running back George Payne ran for a five-yard touchdown, giving Southern Miss a 20-13 lead.
Like Southern Miss, North Texas responded with a touchdown, going 86 yards in seven plays to tie the game, 20-20. This would be the last time the Mean Green would score.
From there, Southern Miss (3-4) dominated the remainder of the game. Starting from its own four-yard line, the Golden Eagles put together a game-changing drive filled with a balance of run and pass to get into the red zone. Then, Mullens threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Casey Martin to give Southern Miss a 27-20 lead.
In the insuing drive, North Texas failed to convert on third down. Thus, the Golden Eagles forced the Mean Green to punt.
In the fourth, Southern Miss added another field goal, increasing the lead to 30-20 with 12:01 remaining in the game.
The Golden Eagle defense stood tall in the fourth quarter, keeping the Mean Green away from the endzone.
For the game, Mullens threw for 305 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Ito Smith led Southern Miss in rushing, recording 95 yards on 12 carries, followed by George Payne with 67 yards on 14 carries. As a team, the Golden Eagles rushed for 201 yards and recorded a total of 506 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Dylan Bradley and Dasman McCullum each recorded one sack respectively.
For North Texas (2-5), McNulty threw for 287 yards. Jimmerson led the team in rushing, recording 57 yards on 13 carries and Carlos Harris recorded a career-high 15 receptions for 216 yards.
Southern Miss will return home this week to take on Conference USA division leader, Louisiana Tech on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.