Football Defeated by Southern Miss
Rice football fell to the University of Southern Mississippi, 20-6, on Saturday afternoon at Rice Stadium. Rice has lost all eight games it has played this season, including four games in Conference USA. Since head coach Mike Bloomgren took over the reigns last season, the Owls have two wins and 19 losses.
Southern Miss holds a record 5-3 on the season, and a 3-1 mark against C-USA teams.
The Golden Eagles won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. But Rice’s defense prevented Southern Miss’s offense from achieving a first down and turned the ball over to the Owls’ offense.
During Rice’s first possession, redshirt freshman quarterback Wiley Green attempted multiple passes which traveled over 20 yards, but the Owls were unable to convert. According to Bloomgren, an emphasis within Rice’s game plan was downfield passing.
“We had [several] situations where we wanted to throw the ball down the field, because we thought that was our best bet for victory,” Bloomgren said.
Over the next four possessions, neither team moved the ball into scoring position. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 0-0.
Bloomgren said he thought Rice’s defense limited Southern Miss from generating explosive plays.
“The positive from our game is how the defense played,” Bloomgren said. “On a few drives, we played really solid. We kept a really explosive offense in check.”
During Southern Miss’s first drive in the second quarter, the Golden Eagles used a series of runs and short passes to move the ball into field goal range, and freshman Andrew Stein kicked successfully to give Southern Miss a 3-0 lead.
Rice punted on its next drive. Southern Miss capitalized on its opportunity to extend the lead with a two-yard touchdown run by redshirt junior Kevin Perkins, which was set up by a 29-yard pass from redshirt junior quarterback Jack Abraham to junior receiver Tim Jones. At halftime, Southern Miss led Rice, 10-0.
Rice was not able to convert a first down during its first drive of the second half. When the Golden Eagles received the ball, they used a 31-yard completion from Abraham to redshirt junior Quez Watkins to create a scoring opportunity. After Stein’s second field goal, Rice trailed Southern Miss, 13-0.
But on Rice’s next possession, the Owls took advantage of two penalties by Southern Miss: an illegal hands to the face and a pass interference. With the ball at the Golden Eagles’ 15-yard line, Green threw a high pass to junior receiver Austin Trammell which Trammell corralled in the end zone. Graduate student Chris Barnes missed the extra point opportunity, so the score was 13-6.
The Owls’ defense stopped Southern Miss from scoring on the Golden Eagles’ next drive and had momentum. Rice controlled the ball at Southern Miss’s goal line. Bloomgren opted to pass the ball, but Rice’s scoring chance was unsuccessful because Green threw an interception in the end zone. According to Bloomgren, Green made a mistake on the throw.
“That play is really a simple read,” Bloomgren. “[The throw] is there, or it’s out of bounds. Obviously, that’s not what happened on the play. You talk about taking yourselves out of position to, in that case, tie the game in the fourth quarter.”
After Stein missed a field goal during Southern Miss’s next drive, Bloomgren elected to play redshirt sophomore Evan Marshman at quarterback for the remainder of the game. Bloomgren said Rice cannot remain stagnant offensively.
“Something will change offensively,” Bloomgren said. “The status quo is not good enough.”
With Marshman under center for three drives, Rice was unable to add to its scoring total. Bloomgren said he blames his quarterbacks for remaining complacent in the pocket.
“I look at these offensive numbers and they’re gross, they’re disgusting,” Bloomgren said. “We called some one-man concepts where the ball has got to get [thrown]. We think our receivers are phenomenal, but for some reason the ball wouldn’t get [thrown]. I can’t explain why. There were some times where protection wasn’t as good as it should be, but there were a lot of times where the ball was just held on to.”
With five minutes left in the game, Southern Miss moved the ball down the field. The Golden Eagles scored a touchdown with 33 seconds remaining and ensured their victory.
According to Trammell, Rice will continue to seek victory.
“Right now, [the team’s morale] is pretty down, just because of the tough loss,” Trammell said. “But our team fights through adversity. Our team’s not gonna quit. We love each other too much to quit. We’re gonna keep fighting.”
Rice next plays Marshall University on Nov. 2 at Rice Stadium. Marshall has a record of 5-3 on the season.
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