HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Even after a couple days had passed, the disappointment came through clearly Monday morning as University of Southern Mississippi football coach Jay Hopson assessed his Golden Eagles’ 30-7 loss Saturday at the University of North Texas.
“Tough loss,” Hopson said during his weekly news conference. “Not a fun day.”
Hopson bemoaned a set of squandered opportunities during a stretch of the game when USM trailed by only three points.
“It was kind of a crazy game,” Hopson said. “It’s 10-7, and we take the ball in the third quarter to start. We take it down and shoot ourselves in the foot. Then, we miss a field goal. We stop them, get the ball back, and take it down to a first-and-goal at the 8 (-yard line), then we turn the ball over.
“We stop them again, drive right back down the plus-side of the field and don’t get any points again. That’s when they made a play and we made a critical, third-down error, which opened up a window there.”
And the Mean Green took full advantage, outscoring the Golden Eagles 20-0 over the game’s final 15 minutes, 34 seconds.
The Golden Eagles gained 367 yards off 72 snaps, but couldn’t get points on the scoreboard.
USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said the Golden Eagles’ issues in close were self-inflicted.
“We’ve got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot, period,” Dawson said. “We would drive the ball down into the red area, and every single time, we would do something stupid, and you can’t do that against a good football team.
“We can sit here and dissect all we want, but that’s the reality of that game. Between the 20s, we played pretty good, and when we got down there, we played horrendous.”
USM will not have long to dwell on what might have been. The Golden Eagles (2-3, 1-1 Conference USA) will welcome the University of Texas-San Antonio (3-4, 2-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday to M.M. Roberts Stadium for homecoming.
“We’re going to go back to work,” Hopson said. “That’s all that I know to do. Get back to work, try and get better.
“It’s another tough team coming in and they have our utmost respect.”
Junior Jordan Mitchell (12 catches, 135 yards) and sophomore Quez Watkins (seven catches, 100 yards) became the first Golden Eagle duo to post 100 yards receiving in a single game since Korey Robertson (seven catches, 111 yards) and Watkins (four catches, 103 yards) turned the trick against the University of Kentucky in the 2017 season opener.
Players of the Week for the UNT game included:
Offense: Mitchell, who set career highs with his 12-catch, 135-yard afternoon at Apogee Stadium.
Defense: Senior linebacker Sherrod Ruff, who finished with six tackles, including five solo stops.
Special teams: Sophomore defensive lineman Jacques Turner, who blocked an extra point at the end of the third quarter. Turner also finished with two tackles.