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RECAP: Southern Miss capitalizes on North Texas turnovers in opening C-USA game

RECAP: Southern Miss capitalizes on North Texas turnovers in opening C-USA game

RECAP: Southern Miss capitalizes on North Texas turnovers in opening C-USA game
October 04
11:15 2020

Multiple fumbles and special teams miscues by North Texas (1-2, 0-1 Conference USA) provided Southern Mississippi (1-3, 1-0 C-USA) the opportunities to pull away with a 41-31 win over the Mean Green. The Golden Eagles’ defense recovered three North Texas fumbles in the game, all three within North Texas’ own territory. Two special teams fumbles occurred by the Mean Green on a kickoff return and a punt.

“I thought it was a very undisciplined game,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “We had three turnovers offensively, two turnovers on special teams and a blocked field goal. We just didn’t play very disciplined. That’s a reflection on coaching, make no mistake about it. We have to get back to the drawing board this weekend and make sure we’re improved and coach our guys the right way.”

Seven North Texas players were unable to participate in Saturday’s game due to injuries and other medical reasons. Key sidelined players included leading rusher and freshman running back Oscar Adaway Jr., sophomore safety Keelan Crosby, junior linebacker Tyreke Davis and sophomore linebacker Kevin Wood.

Sophomore quarterback Austin Aune started as quarterback for North Texas, where the announcement of a starter between him and sophomore quarterback Jason Bean was a game-time decision.

North Texas reached the scoreboard in their first possession on a 49-yard field goal by junior placekicker Ethan Mooney.

The Golden Eagles responded on their first possession with a 22-yard passing touchdown by senior Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham to junior wide receiver Demarcus Jones.

North Texas coughed the ball up within three of their next four possessions. The offense fumbled the ball twice and the Golden Eagles’ defense stopped the Mean Green offense from converting on 4th and 1 at the Southern Miss 6-yard line.

Southern Miss’ offense found the endzone following a fumbled kickoff return by North Texas on freshman running back Frank Gore Jr.’s 11-yard rushing touchdown.

The Golden Eagles led 20-10 at the end of the first half, wherein the second half each team alternated touchdown scores.

“[Southern Miss] is a good team and you have to give them credit,” Aune said. “They came out ready to play and it was the second week in a row the offense came out a little slow. We’re going to fix that. Overall we played better as the game went on, we just have to capitalize and can’t turn the ball over when the defense makes stops.”

Aune finished Saturday’s game 28-of-47 attempts for 339 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Jaelon Darden had 13 catches on 104 yards with a touchdown. Freshman receiver Deonte Simpson caught five passes on 113 yards and a touchdown.

Senior running back DeAndre Torrey led North Texas with 82 rushing yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Tre Siggers rushed for 54 yards with a touchdown, where he found the end zone on a 34-yard rushing in the third quarter.

The Southern Miss offense scored 10 points off the North Texas turnovers and held possession of the ball for 10 minutes and 32 seconds longer than the Mean Green in Saturday night’s game.

“Defensively, we played well enough to win,” Littrell said. “They had a lot of short field [situations] with gutty performances from different players who gave everything they had playing positions they normally don’t play. Unfortunately, we didn’t play well enough on offense and special teams to give ourselves a chance to win. You turn the ball over that many times and shoot yourself in the foot, you’re not going to win games.”

UP NEXT: North Texas looks to get their first C-USA win against Charlotte (0-2, 0-1 C-USA) next week in their fourth straight home game to start the season. The 49ers fell to Florida Atlantic (1-0, 1-0 C-USA) Saturday afternoon by a score of 21-17.

Featured Image: Sophomore senior wide receiver Deonte Simpson runs past Southern Mississippi defender on Oct. 3, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Preston Rios

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