HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For the University of Southern Mississippi, deuces came up absolutely wretched Saturday night against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Two interceptions, two fumbles and two missed field goals helped lead to the Golden Eagles dropping a 21-20 decision to the Warhawks before 19,579.
Jack Abraham threw his second interception on USM’s final offensive play of the game, as linebacker Cortez Sisco Jr., dropped back int
o coverage to first snare, then snuff the Golden Eagles’ final gasp at the Warhawks’ 35-yard line with 27 seconds to play.
The last time Golden Eagles lost to Louisiana-Monroe the school was known as Northeast Louisiana University, its athletic teams were Indians and Brett Favre was a freshman quarterback at USM from Kiln, Miss.
A NLU team led by future National Football League quarterback Stan Humphries came into Hattiesburg n 1987 and left with a 34-24 win over the Golden Eagles. It was USM’s only loss in the series until Saturday.
USM (1-1) outgained the Warhawks (2-0) Saturday and possessed the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer.
But in first career start against Football Bowl Subdivision competition, Abraham found himself under consistent pressure, twice losing fumbles after being sacked.
Abraham completed 31-of-46 passes for 378 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but also threw the first two interceptions of his collegiate career.
USM took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the game on a shovel pass that Jaylond Adams took 75 yards down the home sideline for his first touchdown of the season. It was the longest play of both Adams’ and Abraham’s career.
But ULM tied the score when defensive tackle Mason Husmann forced a fumble while sacking Abraham, with defensive end Sam Miller recovering in the end zone.
After Abraham was intercepted on a lazy lob attempt down the sideline, ULM quarterback Caleb Evans found slot receiver Marcus Green with a 49-yard touchdown pass and a 14-10 lead.
USM answered with Parker Shaunfield’s 42-yard field and went into the second quarter trailing 14-10.
Abraham and Watkins connected for their fourth touchdown of the young season on a 5-yard touchdown pass to take a 17-14 halftime lead.
After the Golden Eagles kicked the ball out of bounds to open the second half, Austin Vaughn broke a 56-yard run through the middle of the USM defense, setting up Evans’ 4-yard scoring pass to Green that gave the Warhawks the lead for good.
Shaunfield, who missed a 53-yard field goal attempt late in the second quarter, hit a 47-yarder with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter. But that would be the last of the scoring for either team.
Shaunfield (49 yards) and ULM kicker Craig Ford (42 yards) both missed field goals down the stretch with the Warhawks clinging to their one-point lead, and USM appeared to be driving its way into position for a last-minute field-goal attempt before Sisco’s interception ended the Golden Eagles’ comeback hopes.
USM struggled to mount an effective running game, netting just 58 yards on 34 attempts. Tez Parks ran for 46 yards on 19 carries and T-Rod Daniels went for 32 yards on eight carries.
Watkins grabbed 11 passes for 81 yards and a score, while Adams turned in a career night with eight catches for 158 yards.
Vaughn led ULM with a game-high 85 yards rushing and Evans completed 15-of-28 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.