HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - When the Southern Miss box score reads 45-0, it's easy to see the Golden Eagle offense was productive in Saturday's win over Southern.
However, the USM defense played just as pivotal, if not more significant, of a role on Saturday.
The "Nasty Bunch" limited the Jaguars to 140 yards of total offense - the second fewest given up under defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro. USM set a new school record by holding Southern to 0-for-12 on third-down conversions.
The Eagle defense accounted for two touchdowns - senior Xavier Thigpen's fumble recovery in the end zone and senior Cornell Armstrong's 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. It marked the first time since the 2011 season that Southern Miss recorded two defensive touchdowns in a game.
"I always feel like if you can score on defense, you're bound to win the game," said USM redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jacques Turner. "We were able to score twice on defense. I feel like that was a big deal for us 'cause coach has been preaching try to get turnovers. If we get turnovers, we can win the ball game."
"Anytime you can get a few picks, I thought they played physical tonight," said USM head coach Jay Hopson. "Anytime that happens, you're pretty pleased with the effort. I thought we flew around good. We know we have a few execution errors on both sides of the ball and we know we have to get better. I said that last week but that's just what I want to see. I want to see us get better. We have to clean up some things. It was by no means a perfect game but I thought we played hard."