Top 5 Moments for 2016 Senior Class - No. 3
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The streak had run to 12 games.
Entering the 2016 season, that was the number of consecutive games Southern Miss had fallen to a team that plays in the Southeastern Conference.
This year's senior class were infants when the Golden Eagles shutout Alabama 21-0 on Sept. 16, 2000, which was the last time Southern Miss captured a win against the SEC.
Fast forward to the start of the 2016 season and the Golden Eagles were looking to snap that skid in Lexington, Ky., against the Kentucky Wildcats.
After a shaky start that saw him throw three interceptions, senior quarterback Nick Mullens threw two touchdowns and ran for two more as the Golden Eagles claimed their greatest comeback in school history, 44-35, rallying from 25 points back in the game.
Junior running back Ito Smith piled up 213 yards rushing and receiving; including a career-high 173 yards rushing on 36 carries, while George Payne reached the 100-yard plateau, hitting the figure on the nose on 16 carries.
Mullens completed 18 of 28 passes for 258 yards, including a 71-yard strike to first-year receiver Isaiah Jones just 14 seconds before halftime that started the USM comeback. Jones had a team-high 93 yards on three catches.
Trailing 35-17 at the break, the Golden Eagles' defense eliminated the big plays that had fueled Kentucky in the opening 30 minutes and gave the ball back to the offense three times on two fumble recoveries and an interception.
All told, Kentucky ran 16 plays on five possessions in the second half that netted just 46 yards.
USM scored every time it had the ball in the second half except for its final possession, when it turned the ball over on downs running out the clock.
Fellow senior Dylan Bradley led the way defensively for the Golden Eagles giving them seven tackles, including two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and recovery, as well as a sack. Senior teammates D'Nerius Antoine and Devonta Foster added five stops each.
The Golden Eagles defeating Kentucky was the No. 3 moment of the 2016 Southern Miss senior class.