The following is an official press release courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics.Southern Miss Football Report: Sept. 18, 2016Record 2-1, 0-0 C-USA
L, 37-31, vs. Troy (Carlisle-Faulkner Field at M.M. Roberts Stadium/Hattiesburg, Miss./27,905)This Week
Saturday, Sept. 24 at UTEP, 7 p.m. CT (Sun Bowl Stadium/El Paso, Texas/51,100, TV – Campus Insiders, Ron Thulin, play-by-play; Max Starks, analyst; John Claybrook, sidelines)Offensive Player of the Week Nomination
Junior RB Ito Smith (5-9, 195, Mobile, Ala.)
Collected his third 100-yard rushing performance of the year with a team-high 131 yards on 20 carries with a pair of rushing scores against Troy, while adding three catches for 17 yards. He tied the score on the first play of the third quarter with a 70-yard touchdown run, registering his second scoring rush of 70 or more yards this season. In the contest, he went over the 2,000-yard career rushing mark (2,096) and now has 11 career 100-yard rushing games which places him tied for fourth with Sam DeJarnette (1982-84) on the school’s career list. Smith now has rushed for a touchdown in his last seven games and has 16 career touchdowns on the ground.Defensive Player of the Week Nomination
Redshirt Junior DL Xavier Thigpen (6-5, 240, Hebron, Miss.)
Tallied a career-high eight tackles including four for a loss of 23 yards – of which one was for a 16 yards. He also added a quarterback hurry in the contest. Thigpen has 11 tackles on the season of which 6.5 have been for loss and also includes two sacks. His tackle for loss total was the most by a Golden Eagle since Jamie Collins did it against UAB on Nov. 3, 2012.Special Teams Player of the Week Nomination
* Southern Miss dropped its first game of the season with a 37-31 setback to Troy, which snapped a six-game home winning streak. In the contest, the Golden Eagles also saw a string of six scoreless quarters end as well as a string of 97 consecutive points scored in the contest.
* Southern Miss (421-309) outgained its opponent for the third consecutive game.
* The Golden Eagle offensive line has not allowed a sack in the last two games. It’s the first-such streak since Oct. 8 and 22, 2011 at Navy and versus SMU, respectively.
* Nick Mullens has now thrown a touchdown in 19 straight games and over 200 yards for the 30th time in his career, tallying a 16-yard scoring throw to Allenzae Staggers, while also finished with 263 passing yards in the game. Mullens trails Austin Davis by two games (32) for the most 200-plus passing games for a Golden Eagle quarterback in their career.
* Devonta Foster tallied a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was Southern Miss’ first since Dec. 5, 2015, against WKU when Kalan Reed brought one back 40 yards in the C-USA title game. It was the second pick of Foster’s career, both for touchdowns.
* Defensive lineman Dylan Bradley continues to lead the team in tackles with 20, after registering a team-high nine against Troy.
* Place kicker Parker Shaunfield has made four straight field goals to start the 2016 season, by hitting one from 41 yards versus the Trojans. He was 2-for-5 last season.
* The Golden Eagles open their 21st season of Conference USA action this week when they travel to El Paso, Texas, to face UTEP. Southern Miss is 14-6 in league openers since the 1996 campaign.