USM football focus squarely on UAB

USM football focus squarely on UAB

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With a win Saturday night, the University of Southern Mississippi would log its sixth win of the football season and become bowl-eligible for a third consecutive season.

It's a subject that USM football coach Jay Hopson has no desire whatsoever to even consider discussing at this point in the season.

"No, not something we've even talked about," Hopson said. "You count your chips at the end. It's a one-game deal, every week."

That approach has served the Golden Eagles well so far.

USM (5-2, 3-1 Conference USA) will carry a three-game winning streak into its 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday with the University of Alabama-Birmingham (4-3, 2-2) at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

The focus on the task at hand played a role in the Golden Eagles' 34-27 double overtime victory Saturday against Louisiana Tech University at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston, La.

Down 11 points with 4 minutes, 8 seconds, to play, place-kicker Parker Shaunfield drilled his fourth field goal of the game to get USM within 27-19 with 1:23 to play. The Golden Eagles then recovered an on-side kick, got a 22-yard touchdown pass from Keon Howard to Korey Robertson with 31 seconds left in the game and sent it into overtime when Howard found tight end Jay-Shawn Washington with a two-point conversion pass.

After both teams threw interceptions to end possessions in the first extra period, Howard hit Robertson again with a 25-yard scoring pass on the first play of the second overtime as USM dusted off its "road warrior" moniker. The Golden Eagles are 3-0 on the road, 2-2 in Hattiesburg.

As much as USM relished the improbable rally, Hopson said last week's heroics will mean little when the Golden Eagles welcome the Blazers.

"You don't know what will happen," Hopson said. "That's the one thing we have to understand this week. We have another outstanding football team coming to town. We have to be prepared and ready.

"We're not going to talk about La. Tech because it's done. It's time for us to move on. We know we have our plate full Saturday."

UAB, returning to the football field this fall for the first time since the program was disbanded following the 2014 season, has struggled on the road this season. The Blazers have won all four of their games at Legion Field in Birmingham, but have gone 0-3 on the road, including a 25-24 overtime loss at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

USM and UAB played every season from 2000-2014. The Golden Eagles won the first nine meetings, but the Blazers have five of the last six, including a 45-24 victory in 2014 in Hattiesburg.

But Hopson said the only outcome that matters for the Golden Eagles will be the one on the scoreboard Saturday night.

"You better understand it," Hopson said. "In football, life's about living and learning, and every week, it happens. If you look at it a few weeks ago, Troy beats LSU and then five days later, South Alabama gets them.

"Bottom line is, it's a new week, it's a new game, it's a new challenge. What happened last week has no significance on this game and no relevance."