Gore Jr.’s record night highlights Southern Miss’ first bowl victory since 2016

Published: Dec. 17, 2022 at 9:11 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WLBT) - The LendingTree Bowl matchup between two old foes exceeded all expectations.

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles beat former Conference USA rival, the Rice Owls, with a second-half comeback in Mobile, Alabama to win their first bowl game since 2016 behind running back Frank Gore Jr.’s record-setting night.

Southern Miss got off to an early lead 14-0 lead after Senior quarterback Trey Lowe III threw a 19-yard touchdown to slot receiver Jakarius Caston in the first quarter, followed by Gore Jr.’s 69-yard rushing touchdown with 10 minutes left to play in the second quarter.

The Golden Eagles’ defense, known as the “Nasty Bunch,” was flying across the field and making big plays, holding the Owls to just 3 points in their first six drives of the contest and keeping a 17-3 lead at halftime for Southern Miss.

However, the bowl game matchup quickly became the Frank Gore Jr. show.

After surrendering 21 unanswered points to the Owls in the third quarter, Gore Jr. put the Southern Miss on his shoulders.

The running back led the Golden Eagles down the field in the “superback” position and threw a lofted 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ty Mims to tie the game 24-24 with just under 4 minutes left in the third quarter.

On the ensuing Southern Miss drive, Gore Jr. surpassed 217 rushing yards to set a Southern Miss bowl record for most rushing yards in a bowl game. Later in the drive, Lowe through a 19-yard touchdown to Conerly Trophy nominee Jason Brownlee to take a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Nasty Bunch shut out the Owls’ offense in the fourth quarter behind key plays from linebacker Daylon Gill, defensive end Dominic Quewon, and cornerback Eric Scott Jr.

Gore Jr. iced the game with an incredible 55-yard touchdown run to seal a 38-24 LendingTree Bowl victory.

Gill led the team in tackles with 11 and recorded three of the five sacks for the Southern Miss defense. Quewon recorded his 10th sack of the season, making him the first Golden Eagle player to have a 10-sack season since Jamie Collins did so in 2012. Scott Jr. had 2 key pass breakups and All-American safety Jay Stanley had an interception.

Gore Jr. ended the night with 329 rushing yards, a school record, FBS-high for the 2022 season, and an NCAA bowl game record, along with 2 rushing touchdowns and a touchdown pass. He was also named the MVP of the game.

Southern Miss ends their season with a (7-6) record in head coach Will Hall’s second season in charge, the program’s first winning season since 2019 and first bowl win since 2016.

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