Photo and story courtesy of USM Athletics
As a first-time visitor to M.M. Roberts Stadium, Western Kentucky proved to be downright rude guests.
The Hilltoppers not only snapped Southern Miss’ three-game winning streak, but ruined its bid to remain unbeaten at home by handing the Golden Eagles’ a 28-10 loss before 20,369.
“That was a tough one,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. “That was a close ballgame, and there were certainly a few plays that kind of swung the pendulum in their favor.”
The Golden Eagles (7-4, 5-2 Conference USA) missed an opportunity to move into sole possession of first place in C-USA’s West Division.
Southern Miss remains in a first-place tie atop the division with Louisiana Tech and UAB. All three schools wrap up the regular season Saturday, with the Golden Eagles on the road at Florida Atlantic at 2:30 p.m. CT
WKU (7-4, 5-2), which snapped a two-game losing streak, took the opening possession of the game and went 75 yards for a touchdown, scoring on 21-yard run by receiver Jacquez Sloan.
Southern Miss answered on a 68-yard pass from Abraham to receiver Tim Jones. It marked the third consecutive week the pair had hooked up for a touchdown.
WKU took the lead for good on a 64-yard pass from Ty Storey to Jahcour Pearson less than 3 minutes into the second quarter.
The lead grew to 21-7 at halftime on Storey’s 21-yard pass to Quin Jernighan.
After a scoreless third quarter, WKU made it 28-7 when Abraham was sacked by WKU defensive tackle Jeremy Darden, causing a fumble that was scooped up by DeAngelo Malone and returned 5 yards for a touchdown.
“Great team win for our guys,” WKU coach Tyson Helton said. “This is a tough place to come in and get a win. We just beat a good football team (Saturday evening). In my eyes, this was kind of the biggest win of the season for us, to be honest.”
Abraham completed 16-of-31 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. Tim Jones caught seven passes for a game-high 159 yards.
Watkins caught eight passes for 90 yards, becoming just the eighth Golden Eagle in program history to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.
Storey completed 20-of-30 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Pearson (88 yards) and Lucky Jackson (36 yards) each had seven catches.