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Defense Shines Under the Lights of Second Fall Scrimmage

Aug. 20, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss defense exceled in the team's second scrimmage of fall camp Saturday night at Carlisle-Faulkner Field at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

The defense created several turnovers in the scrimmage including interception returns for touchdowns by Picasso Nelson, Jr., and Ernest Gunn. Nelson's takeaway went 50 yards, while Gunn brought back an errant pass 69 yards. In addition, junior Allen Fails, Jr., and D'Nerius Antoine each recovered fumbles.

"It was the opposite story of last Saturday," said first-year Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson, whose offense starred in the team's first full scrimmage a week ago. "I know the offense had that one. The defense played hard (tonight), and it's always good to get in that second scrimmage. The hardest thing to work is the tackling, and our guys did that pretty well. Good day, and I thought we played well up front defensively."

Senior Nick Mullens, whose play was limited in the two-hour plus scrimmage, converted his best throw of 48 yards to junior Tyre'oune Holmes across the middle.

"After the third possession, we took Nick [Mullens] out to get the young quarterbacks out and develop those guys," said Hopson. "I think coming out, the defense took it over. We made a few good catches and connected on some long balls. Tez [Parks] had some good runs in the red zone area, and that was good to see. George [Payne] had some good runs too."

Junior Parker Adamson converted on two short touchdown strikes to senior D.J. Thompson of 10 and five yards, while freshman Keon Howard threw a 40-yard scoring toss to freshman Quez Watkins and a 25-yard TD pass to senior Jarell Aaron.

Still, it was the defense who enjoyed most of the success on this evening and Hopson praised some of the players that stood out including junior Xavier Thigpen.

"He had a really good scrimmage. That's what we need from him," said Hopson. "I'll look at the film, but I thought Draper [Riley] made some good plays inside. [Sherrod] Ruff played well at linebacker. Elijah [Parker] and Kelsey [Douglas] did some good things, so I thought the defense had a good day."

The Golden Eagles return to the practice field on Monday with their fourth and final two-a-day workout of fall camp.

The 2016 season begins Saturday, Sept. 3, with a 6:30 p.m. CT contest at Kentucky. Tickets for the upcoming Golden Eagle football season can be purchased by going online at, by phone at 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or in person weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the Ferlise Center.

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