The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns hung in there, and hung in there, but the Southern Miss Golden Eagles had too much firepower on both sides of the ball.
The Golden Eagles seemed ready to make quick work of Louisiana with two easy Ito Smith touchdowns over a Cajun defense that had grown stronger as the regular season progressed. But then QB Anthony Jennings and Company added 14 unanswered of their own, and the score was tied 14-14 at halftime.
But when the second half started, QB Nick Mullens (346 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Ito Smith (138 yards, 2 TDs) went back to work with two more unanswered TDs. The game seemed iced until a Mullens pick lead to a Anthony Jennings rushing TD late in the fourth, putting Louisiana to within 7 to tie.
But Southern Miss continued to feed Smith the rock, methodically pounding the Cajuns’ defensive line until it was a broken pile of bones. The Cajuns had an opportunity to tie the game with 2 minutes left, but some questionable clock management from the Louisiana sideline yielded zero points, and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles reclaimed the New Orleans Bowl for Conference USA.
Notes and Observations
The tough Golden Eagles defense collected 6 sacks on Anthony Jennings
New Orleans Bowl MVP Allenzae Staggers, wide receiver, enjoyed a monster game with 230 yards and a TD for the Golden Eagles
This was the Golden Eagles first New Orleans Bowl win since 2008, when Southern Miss upended Troy in overtime 30-27
Senior running back Elijah McGuire concluded his Cajun career with 99 yards
This is the first New Orleans Bowl loss for head coach Mark Hudspeth, who had won 4 in a row, from 2011 to 2014