Southern Miss wins C-USA opener


HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – Southern Miss beat Rice 40-22 Saturday night to win its Conference USA opener.


Offensive Player of the Week Nomination

Jack Abraham, Sophomore, Quarterback, Oxford, Miss.

Threw for the fourth-most passing yards in school history as he finished his night with 428 on 25-of-34 passing with four touchdowns and an interception. It was his second four touchdown game of the season as he now has 10 on the year against just three interceptions. His four different TD throws went to four different players, including one to Quez Watkins who notched his five catches for a score this season. He also hit De’Michael Harris for a 74-yard catch and tight end Jay’Shawn Washington with a 65-yard grab, although neither one of those went for touchdowns. In all, he completed 73.5 percent of his passes and has been successful on his attempts 72 percent over his first three games of the campaign. The 400-yard passing game was one of only six in school history and third time it has been done against Rice.

Defensive Player of the Week Nomination

Rachaun Mitchell, Redshirt Sophomore, Defensive Back, Jacksonville, Fla.

Collected his first inception of his career late in the second quarter that he returned 45 yards to the Rice 1-yard line, which the Golden Eagles turned into seven points on the very next play. His interception helped open up what was then a two-point lead for the Golden Eagles to a nine-point spread and the visiting Owls never got any closer the rest of the game. His interception was what Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson called in his postgame media conference the biggest play of the game. Mitchell also added three solo tackles in the affair.

Special Teams Player of the Week Nomination

Parker Shaunfield, Redshirt Senior, Place Kicker, Aledo, Texas

Parker Shaunfield converted both of his field goal attempts in the game – from 28 and 44 yards – and also four of his extra point attempts. His first-quarter 28-yarder put the Golden Eagles up for good in the contest.  The C-USA Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year has now converted 6-of-8 field goals and is second on the squad this fall in scoring with 31 points. Four of his six makes have come from beyond 40 yards this season.

* The Golden Eagles began its 23rd season of Conference USA play as they entertained Rice, improving to 16-7 in league openers. The win also marked the fourth-straight triumph over Rice.
* Over the four-game winning streak with Rice, the Golden Eagles are average 616.8 of total offense in those contests. That includes 566 total yards in this year’s affair.
* With his five-catch, 85-yard performance against the Owls, Quez Watkins has now collected 24 catches for 304 yards over the first three games this season. The sophomore from Athens, Ala., ranks fifth in the FBS in both receptions per game (8.0) and scoring (12.0), while holding down a No. 6 ranking in receiving TDs (five).
* Southern Miss improved to 12-3 under Jay Hopson when they score 30 or more points in a contest.
* The defense limited the Owls to 262 yards, improving the Golden Eagles to No. 9 in the FBS in total defense, allowing just an average of 271.7 yards per game this season. In fact, the Golden Eagles are 10-2 when they limit their opposition to under 300 yards of total offense under Hopson.
* While the Appalachian State game in Boone N.C., which was scheduled for Sept. 15, was canceled due to Hurricane Florence, it allowed the Golden Eagles to play their first three games at home for the first time since 2009 and for the fifth time in school history.
* Redshirt senior Jeremy Sangster has produced seven tackles in each of his last two games at linebacker for the squad.

* The Golden Eagles finish the non-conference portion of the schedule this week when they travel to Auburn. It will be the first meeting between the schools since 2008 and the Tigers hold a 17-5 overall advantage in the series.

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