Southern Miss

Southern Miss survives Marshall to boost bowl options

Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson speaks with his players during a game against Charlotte at M.M. Roberts Stadium on Nov. 18.
Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson speaks with his players during a game against Charlotte at M.M. Roberts Stadium on Nov. 18. Associated Press

The Southern Miss football team survived a wild road trip, 28-27, at Marshall to close out the regular season on Saturday.

Marshall was set to tie the game with 1:15 remaining following a 9-yard touchdown toss from Chase Litton to Ryan Yurachek, but a poor snap on the extra point sent the Thundering Herd kicking unit into a desperate scramble. The Herd’s holder, Jackson White, tried a toss toward the end zone for 2 points, but Jomez Applewhite intercepted the weak pass.

Senior tight end Julien Allen recovered the ensuing onside kick to allow the Golden Eagles to close out the victory.

Jay Hopson’s USM squad finished the regular season at 8-4 and 6-2 in Conference USA play, making the team just one of four squads in the conference with at least eight victories. Marshall dropped to 7-5 and 4-4 in C-USA.

USM, which finished the regular season 5-1 on the road, likely won’t know its bowl destination until after the Dec. 2 C-USA title game.

Senior running back Ito Smith ran 29 times for 150 yards and one touchdown to help lead the USM offense.

USM senior receiver Korey Robertson had his fifth 100-yard game of the season, catching seven passes for 118 yards and one touchdown.

Kwadra Griggs battled inconsistency throwing the ball for much of the game, but made enough passes in the second half to put his team in position to win. He completed 16 of 35 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt junior had his best rushing game of the season, carrying 12 times for 61 yards.

Litton kept Marshall in the game, completing 26-of-44 passes for 308 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Following a scoreless first quarter, Southern Miss got in the end zone first on a 3-yard run by Smith to make 7-0 at the 14:09 mark of the second quarter.

Marshall responded with a 26-yard touchdown toss from Litton to Willie Johnson to tie it up at 7-7 with 5:15 left before the half.

The two teams traded touchdown tosses to close out the first half, setting the score at 14-14 at halftime.

Marshall took its first lead of the game when Litton threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Yuracheck, making it 28-21 with 9:44 left in the third quarter.

Griggs began to make some key completions in the final 20 minutes of the game, leading the the Eagles down the field on a 14-play, 93-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard pass to Allenzae Staggers to tie the game at 21-21 with 1:54 left in the third quarter.

Xavier Thigpen forced a fumble by Marshall running back Tyler King and senior defensive end Allen Fails recovered at the Marshall 48.

USM followed with a 5-play, 54-yard drive that was capped off 9-yard touchdown pass from Griggs to Staggers to regain the lead at 28-21 with 9:44 left.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee