Game Preview: Southern Miss vs. Louisiana Tech
Hrapmann Field Goal Vaults Southern Miss to 19-17 Victory
Danny Hrapmann made a 49-yard field goal with 2:32 left to help Southern Miss beat Louisiana Tech 19-17 on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.
While this will be the 45th meeting between the Golden Eagles and the Bulldogs, the third-longest rivalry for the school behind Memphis and Louisiana-Lafayette, it will be the first in which both teams are members of Conference USA. Louisiana Tech joined C-USA this season.
Southern Miss (0-8, 0-4 C-USA) is 31-13 all-time, 14-7 in Ruston and has won three consecutive games and seven of the last eight meetings in the series.
Louisiana Tech (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) last defeated the Golden Eagles in 1991. The last time the two teams met was 2011, a year in which Southern Miss logged a 19-17 win.
This season, the momentum is on the side of the Bulldogs, who have won 2-of-3 including C-USA victories of 23-7 over FIU and 38-35 over UTEP. Southern Miss lost 63-13 to Marshall last week. While the results have been tough, there have been encouraging trends of late for the Golden Eagles.
Freshman quarterback Nick Mullens, in just his second career start, threw for 323 yards and a touchdown versus Marshall, including an 81-yard touchdown pass to Markese Triplett. Mullens' performance marked the 25th time in program history that a quarterback eclipsed 300 yards in a game.
On the year, Mullens has completed 48 passes for 650 yards and four touchdowns. Triplett now leads the team in total receiving yard with 346 yards on 20 catches.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles continue to be led by sophomore defensive back DeBarriaus Miller, who ranks among the nation's top 50 in average tackles per game having made 71 tackles over eight games for an 8.88 average.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Terrick Wright is coming on strong of late and has 64 total tackles on the year.
In Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss faces a balanced offense that averages 160.2 yards rushing and 223.4 yards passing per game.
Bulldog quarterback Ryan Higgins has passed for 1,311 yards and four touchdowns while running back Kenneth Dixon has accounted for 698 yards and three touchdowns.
Andrew Guillot is Louisiana Tech's top receiver with 26 catches for 320 yards and two scores.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are allowing an average of 389.6 yards and 24.5 points per game.
Among Louisiana Tech's top defenders are linebacker Daniel Cobb and defensive lineman IK Enemkpali, both redshirt seniors.
Cobb leads the team with 62 total tackles and nine tackles for loss. Enemkpali has a team-high 5½ sacks and five quarterback hurries on the year.
Saturday's game marks the end of a two-game road swing for the Golden Eagles, who return to Hattiesburg for back-to-back Conference USA games next weekend. The first of these is a contest against Florida Atlantic on November 16 at 11:30 a.m.