Allenzae Staggers, Ito Smith lead USM to bowl win - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Allenzae Staggers, Ito Smith lead USM to bowl win

Southern Miss junior running back Ito Smith's 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 are the 2nd most in a single season in USM history (Sammy Winder, 20 in 1980). Courtesy: WDAM Southern Miss junior running back Ito Smith's 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 are the 2nd most in a single season in USM history (Sammy Winder, 20 in 1980). Courtesy: WDAM
NEW ORLEANS, LA -

A 55-yard strike from senior quarterback Nick Mullens to junior Allenzae Staggers on USM’s first play from scrimmage and the Golden Eagles were rolling. The Ragin' Cajuns didn't know who to stop between Staggers and junior running back Ito Smith dashing through the dome and leading Southern Miss to its first bowl win since 2011.

“It's really just important, myself and the receivers to just come to play, focus,” Mullens said. “Coach [Jay Hopson]’s always talking about precision and that's what it's all about."

"We executed,” Staggers said. “We executed the plays, we took our time, we had great precision and I just was open."

Staggers found himself open several times, hauling in 11 balls for 230 yards, both New Orleans Bowl records.

Just when Louisiana-Lafayette thought it had USM’s air assault in check, Southern Miss would hand it off to Smith who carried it 26 times for 138 yards, juking his way to 1,459 yards in 2016.

"In the second half, defenses usually wear down,” Smith said. “And our guys just turned up and took it to another level. The offensive line did a great job, we had the pass game, we were just clicking on all cylinders. We went out, got the [win], finished the season on a good note."

"A lot of times they had six-man boxes and [Smith]'s still getting yards so you have to give him a lot of credit,” Hopson said.

Although Southern Miss will lose the school’s all-time leader in passing yards (11,994) and passing touchdowns (87) in Nick Mullens, the future of the Golden Eagles looks bright with the playmakers returning.

Based on his prediction for 2017, Staggers couldn’t agree more.

"Undefeated,” Staggers said. “Hattiesburg, undefeated. This is just the beginning." 

Copyright WDAM 2016. All rights reserved.

  • Local NewsLOCALMore>>

  • MHP investigating deadly crash in Pearl River County

    MHP investigating deadly crash in Pearl River County

    Saturday, July 21 2018 8:33 PM EDT2018-07-22 00:33:45 GMT
    The Mississippi Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly crash that happened on Hwy. 53 in Pearl River County on July 21. (Photo Source: WDAM Staff)The Mississippi Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly crash that happened on Hwy. 53 in Pearl River County on July 21. (Photo Source: WDAM Staff)

    Just after midnight on July 21, the Mississippi Highway Patrol responded to a fatality on Hwy 53 in Pearl River County. Four people were pronounced dead at the scene.  According to authorities, a 2015 Chevrolet Sonic was traveling north of Highway 53 when it crossed the center line and crashed head on with a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado driving in the southbound lane. The driver and rear passenger of the Chevrolet Sonic and the driver of the Chevrolet Silverado were taken to Forrest...

    More >>

    Just after midnight on July 21, the Mississippi Highway Patrol responded to a fatality on Hwy 53 in Pearl River County. Four people were pronounced dead at the scene.  According to authorities, a 2015 Chevrolet Sonic was traveling north of Highway 53 when it crossed the center line and crashed head on with a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado driving in the southbound lane. The driver and rear passenger of the Chevrolet Sonic and the driver of the Chevrolet Silverado were taken to Forrest...

    More >>
  • Miss Hospitality contestants participate in farewell brunch before finals

    Miss Hospitality contestants participate in farewell brunch before finals

    Saturday, July 21 2018 7:54 PM EDT2018-07-21 23:54:59 GMT
    A farewell brunch was held for the 2018 Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant at USM Saturday. Photo credit WDAM.A farewell brunch was held for the 2018 Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant at USM Saturday. Photo credit WDAM.

    Saturday morning, contestants in the 68th annual Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant gathered at the University of Southern Mississippi for one last social event before the final competition.  

    More >>

    Saturday morning, contestants in the 68th annual Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant gathered at the University of Southern Mississippi for one last social event before the final competition.  

    More >>
  • Inmate escapes Covington Co. jail, captured near sheriff's office

    Inmate escapes Covington Co. jail, captured near sheriff's office

    Saturday, July 21 2018 7:53 PM EDT2018-07-21 23:53:59 GMT

    An escaped inmate is back behind bars after a two-hour manhunt in Covington County. According to officials, 50-year-old Terry Bernell Hall escaped the Covington County prison around 1:20 pm Sunday afternoon. 

    More >>

    An escaped inmate is back behind bars after a two-hour manhunt in Covington County. According to officials, 50-year-old Terry Bernell Hall escaped the Covington County prison around 1:20 pm Sunday afternoon. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly