September 17, 2011

Golden Eagles overpower Southeastern La. 52-6

The Golden Eagles needed a bounce-back performance, and they got it.

Southern Miss rushed for 335 yards on the way to a 52-6 blowout over FCS opponent Southeastern Louisiana Saturday night.

Coming off a tough 26-20 loss to Conference USA foe Marshall, the Golden Eagles (2-1) pounded Southeastern (1-2) between the tackles, and scored 13 more points than they did in their previous two games combined.

Sophomore Kendrick Hardy gained 155 yards on 18 carries, freshman Jamal Woodyard ran 15 times for 99 yards and Jeremy Hester added 53 yards on eight carries. All three scored on the ground.

The up-tempo Southeastern offense came in averaging 92 plays a game, but ran just 74 for 285 total yards.

"We played a much better game in all three phases," Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. "There were mistakes, but this was a much more complete game. We wanted to take care of the ball, and we did that."

Lions quarterback Nathan Stanley threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns.

Down 21-6 with less than 10 seconds left in the first half, Southeastern was trying to set up a field goal when Stanley's first interception bounced off the hands of receiver Kory Theodore and into the hands of Southern Miss linebacker Korey Williams.

Williams rumbled 60 yards for the score, breaking a tackle from Stanley at the 10 yard line. The touchdown gave Southern Miss a 28-6 lead headed into the break.

"We talked about leaving a couple of opportunities on the field last week," Williams said. "That was a big emphasis in practice this week, making sure we didn't make the same mistakes, and I think we can say we didn't."

The former Ole Miss quarterback almost hawked Williams down, and the New Orleans native said he'd likely never hear the end of it.

"We usually teach our bigger guys to go down after an interception," Fedora said with a smile. "I could hear (co-defensive coordinator Dave Duggan) yelling into the headset for Korey to go down, but it was wide open so what was he supposed to do?

"I know he doesn't have a future as a running back."

Stanley's second costly interception came late in the fourth quarter with Southeastern pinned inside its own five-yard line. USM defensive end Octavius Thomas jumped up and grabbed a pass aimed for the flats and just out of Stanley's hand and walked into the end zone from six yards out.

Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis connected on 16 of his 23 pass attempts for 143 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Woodyard and tight end Collin Jarbo before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter.

USM kicker Danny Hrapmann, a Lou Groza Award finalist a year ago, missed two field goals for the first time in his career. He was good from 49 yards, but missed on kicks of 42 and 47 yards.

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