Southern Miss found their quarterback in program-building win over Tulane
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLBT) - The Southern Miss Golden Eagles escaped New Orleans with a massive, program-building comeback victory over a renewed rival, the Tulane Green Wave, 27-24 in arguably the biggest win in the Will Hall era.
“[This] was a huge win for our program and what we’re trying to build here this past week against an undefeated Tulane team on the road at their place,” said Southern Miss Head Coach Will Hall. “[Tulane] has a phenomenal defense that has only given up twenty points all year long and has not given up a play of over thirty yards long.”
The Eagles traveled to the Big Easy as a 12-point underdog to face a squad they have not beaten since 2010.
To say a tall task was ahead was an understatement, but Southern Miss pulled off an upset after being down 14-0 in the Battle of the Bell, led by Freshman quarterback Zach Wilcke, who has put the Eagles’ QB battle for the starting spot to bed.
“Yes,” Coach Hall said when I asked if Wilcke cemented his spot as the starting quarterback. “He went on the road and beat a team that you could argue statistically was the best defensive football team in the country. Kansas State scored over 40 [points] over Oklahoma and Missouri, and only scored 10 versus [Tulane]. We scored 17 offensively and 24 total. He had no turnovers, he had a really high completion percentage, and his eyes were right all night.”
Wilcke completed 17 of 25 pass attempts for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns. It’s hard for any quarterback to lead his team over a squad with statistically one of the top defenses in the nation on the road, let alone a freshman.
However, Coach Hall said Wilcke’s night could have been even better.
“[Wilcke] had a big third [quarter] and 10 drop that could have been a big gain, so it could have been an even better performance. He has some things we would like to go back to and do better. But I thought he played really really well versus an awesome defense that plays extremely hard and is really well coached on the road.”
This win marks the second straight win for the Golden Eagles after falling 0-2 to begin the season.
Southern Miss will have a bye week on Saturday, but will travel to Alabama on Saturday, October 8, to face a strong Troy Trojans team. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.
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