The story of the afternoon for the Golden Eagles was turnovers. Southern Miss winning the turnover battle against Marshall four to two, including a momentum changing interception at the end of the first half by Ty Williams that sparked the comeback win for the Golden Eagles.
“We had the fumble return for the touchdown, they had the punt, so at least we were balanced today,” said USM head coach Jay Hopson. “Hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll start getting some on the plus side, you know? But I felt like we created, I thought Ty’s Williams pick was just huge right at the end of the first half and then we had another big one.”
While the four turnovers were the most they’ve had since week one against Jackson State, Southern Miss defenders said they were also proud of how they contained Marshall’s explosive rushing attack.
Coming into the game, Marshall was averaging over 160 rushing yards per contest. The Golden Eagles held them to just 31 yards on the day.
“We take a lot of pride in our front seven,” said Darian Yancey, a redshirt senior for the Golden Eagles. “So, you know, especially with the defensive line, we’re just really preaching pushing the offensive line back and setting a new line of scrimmage. So we just made sure we got after it.”
Yancey himself was apart of the biggest play of the day for Southern Miss, a scoop and score in the second quarter that gave Southern Miss momentum going into halftime.
Quarterback Tate Whatley, who made his first career start on Saturday, said it was plays like Yancey’s that gave the offense the spark it needed.
“Absolutely it helps,” said Whatley. “Like I said, like we feed off of each other, so when they do something good it makes us get all excited and just go out there ready to play.”
Up next for Southern Miss is a big time road matchup against UAB, who holds Conference USA’s best record at 7-1. This is a must win game for the Golden Eagles, who need to win at least two of their next three games to become bowl eligible this season.