NCAA Football: Southern Miss vs. South Alabama

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Separated by less than 100 miles, Southern Miss and South Alabama had never met on the gridiron prior to Thursday night’s season opener in Hattiesburg.

And USM’s 100 plus years of football tradition didn’t seem to help the Golden Eagles all that much in their first ever meeting against the Jaguars who opened up shop as recently as 2009.

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Eagles keep it relatively close, but not close enough as they fall 32-21 to the Jaguars.

After a long summer of wondering if or when college football would even happen this season, Southern Miss lined up as the first FBS versus FBS game of the entire season Thursday at the Rock. As for what college football would look like, well, not very good for the Golden Eagles. They couldn’t run the ball all night and got burned by several defensive miscues.

The end result was South Alabama ending a 15 game road losing streak at the expense of the Black and Gold. Quarterback Jack Abraham said, “Yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough to lose any game, especially at the Rock. Especially to a team like that, which I do think they were a good team. At the end of the day it just comes down to us and I don’t think they really did anything that was out of the ordinary. We just didn’t play the way we should have.”

Wide Receiver Tim Jones said, “It was a tough loss. I came in here expecting to win. I’m sure we all did as a team. I mean you can’t take any team lightly. Too many missed executions on offense, especially our coming out the beginning of the game. Too many penalties went up, so that will hurt you in the long run.”

“I feel like it was just the inner-person. We really just didn’t believe in ourselves at times. We were getting down when we actually could’ve came back and it was just the inner-person.”

Head Coach Jay Hopson said, “Definitely just gave up way too many big plays there. Give those guys credit. Those young men made plays, and they definitely deserved it. Again, South Alabama deserved to win and they made plays. There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it and we’ve got to learn from it and get better.”

Despite being a one-score game for most of the night, silver lining is hard to come by for a team that trailed the Jaguars wire-to-wire and had to listen to chants of USA for most of the second half. The absence of recent opt-outs like D’Iberville alum Jacques Turner as well as Racheem Boothe and Jaylond Adams really showed up when the Golden Eagles need a big play.

USM now has 16 days to digest the deflating loss on the national stage before hosting Louisiana Tech on the 19th.

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at jhaeger@wxxv25.com.