USM drops heartbreaker in Scotty Walden’s debut

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In Hattiesburg, another demoralizing loss for Southern Miss in Scotty Walden’s debut as interim head coach.

The Golden Eagles were in total control with a 27-10 third quarter lead, but couldn’t put away Louisiana Tech late, giving up the game winning touchdown with 14 seconds left to go in a crushing 31-30 defeat.

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Hard not to second guess some aggressive play calling in the early going, including a turnover on downs instead of attempting a field goal and a missed two-point conversion when the game was 7-6. “When you’ve got a lead 27-10, we’ve got to finish that game. My big message to the team was we have to expect to win and expect to win. When we’re up 27-10, there’s no excuse to let them back in the game. And again, hindsight is 2020. We win this game, we’re not talking about this. I mean that’s the truth. Since we lost it, we probably should’ve kicked it, right? And I get it. But the only thing I regret on that is – and it’s my fault – is if we go for it on fourth down and that long, I need to make sure that we have a route combination that gets us past the sticks,” said Walden.

Overall, an inspired effort from USM led by senior wide receiver Tim Jones out of Biloxi who went for 160 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches before leaving the game with a minor lower body injury.

Big weekend for injuries leading to some playing time for former Southern Miss Quarterback Nick Mullens on Sunday filling in for San Francisco’s Jimmy Garappolo to the tune of 8-11 passing for 71 yards and a pick.

On Thursday, fresh start for Mike Thomas with the Cincinnati Bengals, catching four passes from Joe Burrow for 31 yards and a touchdown.

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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.

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