Southern Miss

Southern Miss senior goes out in style, ‘What better script could you have?’

Southern Miss defensive back Kelsey Douglas runs an interception back for a touchdown during the first quarter of the game against Charlotte at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg Saturday.
Southern Miss defensive back Kelsey Douglas runs an interception back for a touchdown during the first quarter of the game against Charlotte at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg Saturday. Special to the Sun Herald

Senior defensive back Kelsey Douglas did something Saturday that no Southern Miss defensive back has done since before he was born. Gosh, no Golden Eagle has done it since before Douglas’ father was born!

But on Senior Day, in his last game at M.M. Roberts Stadium, the home of the Golden Eagles, Douglas intercepted two passes and returned both of them for touchdowns in USM’s 66-25 Conference USA victory over Charlotte.

The first went for 52 yards, the second for 48 yards.

The two interceptions returned for TDs tied the school record set by Larry Ussery in 1967.

“The first one, I caught it and said I’m going to follow the convoy,” a smiling Douglas said after the game. “The second one, I saw nothing but green grass.”

While most of the second half was a blowout, Douglas’ two “pick sixes” came in the first half, the first with 7:29 remaining in the first quarter and gave USM a 10-0 lead and the second with 10:38 left in the second quarter made it 27-0 and put Southern Miss in total command of the game.

Douglas’ play certainly impressed Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson.

“He finished it right at The Rock,” Hopson said. “What better script could you have for a defensive back than two interceptions returned for touchdowns? Those two plays got us going.

“Kelsey is such a great kid. He’s a hard worker. He’s that guy who gives you everything he’s got and has been a tremendous player for us this year. I’m proud of him.”

Douglas, the son of former NFL running back Derrick Douglas, has started all 11 games for Southern Miss this season, although he played sparingly in previous seasons with the team, mostly because of a torn ACL his sophomore season.

He started against Nebraska as a freshman and didn’t start again until late last year.

This season, he has put up decent numbers from the nickel position, ranking sixth on the team with 45 tackles — 25 unassisted and 20 assists after Saturday’s game — but had no interceptions and only a couple of pass breakups through the first 10 games of the season.

All that changed Saturday.

“The first one was off (Tarvarius) Moore,” Douglas said. “I was just getting to the ball and I saw T-Moore tip it. It was in the air so I just jumped it there and kind of snatched it.

“On the second one, credit the pass rush and the D-line getting the pressure. The quarterback, I guess he got hit on the throw and it kind of fell into my hands. I guess I was in the right place at the right time.”

Charlotte coach Brad Lambert said the Golden Eagles’ defense — all of it — was tough to play against.

“They made a couple of really good plays and got the ball in the end zone,” Lambert said. “It really hurt us early in the game.

“We couldn’t handle them up front and just couldn’t block them.”

Douglas was glad to help his team anyway he could. And his teammates liked the way he came through, especially after the second pick six.

“There were guys everywhere (on the sideline),” Douglas said. “I was so tired. I was happy everybody was around me but I was just trying to catch my breath.”

The season isn’t over for the Golden Eagles, who improved to 7-4 overall and 5-2 in Conference USA. They play next Saturday at Marshall, then are headed to a bowl game.

But the action is over at Roberts Stadium.

Douglas finished in style.

“I was trying to end my career at The Rock with a bang,” Douglas said.

He did.

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