HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Southern Miss football's annual black and gold spring game turned out to be a defensive battle as the Gold squad prevailed 14-7. One of the three touchdowns scored on Saturday was junior linebacker Jeremy Sangster's pick-six with less than two minutes remaining.
"The coaches said if we don't get three turnovers there's going to be gashers," Sangster said. "So, ever since practice started, we've been getting like over four turnovers, three turnovers every practice."
Southern Miss met its quota with four total turnovers forced on Saturday. The two quarterbacks battling for the title of "starter" were virtually even in the unofficial statbook. Sophomore Keon Howard completed 12 of 24 passes for 199 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Junior transfer Kwadra Griggs completed 15 of his 25 throws for 207 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
"I thought we moved the ball well inside the 20 [yard line] at times," said USM second-year head coach Jay Hopson. "Really I thought Keon and Kwadra both made some good throws."
"That I can lead and I can really guide a team," said Griggs when asked what he hoped to prove on Saturday. "I can take control of an offense. I think I did pretty good [Saturday] but I can get better at it."
"Overall, we had a productive spring game," Howard said. "Defense played real good, offense played real good. Everybody that needed to step up, stepped up and played and answered."
Junior wide receiver Jordan Mitchell stepped up and grabbed one of his three catches with one hand. The Oak Grove grad led the Golden Eagles with 87 receiving yards. Isaiah Jones added 80 yards receiving and USM's leading receiver from a season ago, Allenzae Staggers, tallied 62 receiving yards.
"We definitely did good today," Mitchell said. "I feel like we can put anybody in there at any time, any down and we can make a play."
"I think all our receivers are great," Griggs said. "There's not one that I don't trust throwing the ball up to one-on-one. I think all of them would win one-on-one."
Now that the spring season officially comes to an end, Southern Miss turns its focus toward summer workouts and, eventually, its that season-opener with Kentucky on September 2 at the Rock.
"Coach [Hopson] talks about it all the time," Mitchell said. "We got Kentucky here. He just talks about opportunity and just taking advantage of our opportunities. So that's what we're going to be focused on this off-season."