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Southern Miss top UL Lafayette 28-21 in New Orleans Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Southern Mississippi career passing leader Nick Mullens finally has the bowl triumph that eluded him until his final college game - thanks in no small part to a record performance by one of his veteran receivers.

Allenzae Staggers set New Orleans Bowl records with 11 catches for 230 yards and also scored a touchdown to help Southern Miss beat Louisiana-Lafayette 28-21 on Saturday night.

''To end it like this, I couldn't ask for anything better,'' said Mullens, who lost his only other bowl appearance last season. ''Last year, I was crying because we lost ... and now I'm trying not to cry because we won.''

Mullens finished his distinguished career by throwing for 346 yards and two TDs. His first touchdown strike was a 6-yarder to running back Ito Smith, who also rushed for 138 yards and two scores.

Smith's balance and sudden changes of direction gave ULL tacklers fits, including on his 11-yard TD run.

''He made something out of nothing a couple of times,'' Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said.

A couple big defensive plays helped the Ragin' Cajuns keep the game competitive despite the Golden Eagles (7-6) outgaining ULL (6-7) 481 yards to 252.

Mullens' second-quarter fumble and fourth-quarter interception both led to Cajuns touchdowns, the latter on a short run by quarterback Anthony Jennings that trimmed Southern Miss' lead to 28-21 with 5:10 to go.

Another defensive stop got ULL's offense the ball once more on its own 18-yard line with 2:02 to go, but Jennings overthrew a fourth-down pass as he rolled right to end the Cajuns' last chance.

DEFENSIVE PRESSURE

The Golden Eagles' defensive front pressured Jennings constantly, sacking him six times, forcing him to throw off his back foot on an underthrown pass that was intercepted by Tarvarius Moore at the Southern Miss goal line, and dropping him for a loss on a fourth-and-short play.

''We didn't handle the pressure well. You've got to give (Southern Miss) credit,'' ULL coach Mark Hudspeth said. ''They've got some really good players on their defensive line. ... We just didn't have the answers for the protection.''

Jennings scored twice on runs, but the senior transfer from LSU completed 8 of 20 passes for 95 yards. His biggest nemesis was defensive lineman Ja'Boore Pool, who sacked him three times and pressured him often.

REGROUPING

The Cajuns' composure was tested early. Mullens completed his first three passes for 127 yards and a touchdown to Smith, who also rushed for the game's opening TD as the Golden Eagles took a 14-0 lead on their first two series.

But ULL methodically got back into the game, starting when Jennings led a nine-play, 66-yard drive capped by his 4-yard TD. In the second quarter, Tre'maine Lightfoot's sack and strip of Mullens was scooped and returned 15 yards by Otha Peters to the Southern Miss 29, setting up a tying 12-yard TD run by reserve QB Dion Ray, who periodically ran plays out of a ''wildcat'' formation.

''Our guys rallied once again and that's another example of the character of this football team,'' Hudspeth said, alluding to the Cajuns winning four of their final six games just to become bowl eligible. ''After the first five minutes of the game, I thought we played really well.''

ULL's Elijah McGuire rushed for 99 yards on 17 carries.

BOWL HISTORY

Staggers' receiving totals surpassed the previous New Orleans Bowl record of 10 catches by Louisiana Tech's Trent Taylor last season, and 190 yards by Louisiana-Lafayatte's Javone Lawson in 2011.

''That guy made dynamic play after dynamic play,'' Hopson said, pointing at Staggers, whose performance also gave Southern Miss its fourth New Orleans Bowl victory in five appearances. ULL lost for the first time in the New Orleans Bowl, which it had won four times, although two of those triumphs were vacated because of recruiting violations.

UP NEXT

Southern Miss: The first order of business is to find a replacement for Mullens, who leaves the Golden Eagles as the program's career leader in yards passing (11,994) and TD passes (87). Complicating that transition at QB is the departure of three-year starting center Cameron Tom and starting guards Oliver Bates and Brandon Farmer.

Louisiana-Lafayette: The Cajuns are expected to apply to the NCAA for another year of eligibility for Jennings, but prospects for approval appear slim. The next QB could come from junior college. The offense also loses McGuire, who ranks second all-time in rushing for ULL, and top receiver Al Riles.

---

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Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 5:10
36-S.Artigue extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
28
21
Touchdown 5:10
11-A.Jennings runs 3 yards for a touchdown.
5
plays
19
yds
02:10
pos
28
20
Point After TD 12:26
21-P.Shaunfield extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
28
14
Touchdown 12:26
25-I.Smith runs 1 yard for a touchdown.
8
plays
67
yds
02:34
pos
27
14
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 10:42
21-P.Shaunfield extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
21
14
Touchdown 10:42
9-N.Mullens complete to 15-A.Staggers. 15-A.Staggers runs 5 yards for a touchdown.
13
plays
100
yds
04:18
pos
20
14
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 7:28
36-S.Artigue extra point is good. Team penalty on USM Offside declined.
plays
yds
pos
14
14
Touchdown 7:28
8-D.Ray runs 12 yards for a touchdown.
2
plays
29
yds
00:30
pos
14
13
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 3:15
36-S.Artigue extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
14
7
Touchdown 3:15
11-A.Jennings runs 4 yards for a touchdown.
11
plays
101
yds
04:02
pos
14
6
Point After TD 7:17
21-P.Shaunfield extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
14
0
Touchdown 7:17
9-N.Mullens complete to 25-I.Smith. 25-I.Smith runs 6 yards for a touchdown.
3
plays
70
yds
01:12
pos
13
0
Point After TD 9:39
21-P.Shaunfield extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
0
Touchdown 9:39
25-I.Smith runs 11 yards for a touchdown.
3
plays
67
yds
00:57
pos
6
0
Team Stats
1st Downs 22 22
Rushing 8 13
Passing 12 5
Penalty 2 4
3rd Down Conv 7-14 3-12
4th Down Conv 0-0 1-3
Total Net Yards 497 287
Total Plays 74 69
Avg Gain 6.7 4.2
Net Yards Rushing 135 157
Rush Attempts 32 47
Avg Rush Yards 4.2 3.3
Net Yards Passing 362 130
Comp. - Att. 25-42 8-22
Yards Per Pass 8.6 5.9
Sacked - Yards Lost 2-16 6-35
Penalties - Yards 13-131 6-57
Touchdowns 4 3
Rushing TDs 2 3
Passing TDs 2 0
Other 0 0
Turnovers 2 1
Fumbles - Lost 2-1 0-0
Int. Thrown 1 1
Punts - Avg 4-42.8 6-41.7
Return Yards 23 132
Punts - Returns 1-3 2-26
Kickoffs - Returns 3-20 3-53
Int. - Returns 1-0 1-53
Kicking 4/5 3/3
Extra Points 4/4 3/3
Field Goals 0/1 0/0
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Southern Miss 7-6 1407728
UL Lafayette 6-7 770721
362 PASS YDS 130
135 RUSH YDS 157
497 TOTAL YDS 287
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
N. Mullens 9 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
62.5% 346 2 1 146.7
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
63.2% 3618 26 12 149.5
N. Mullens 25/40 346 2 1
A. Staggers 15 WR
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
33.3% 47 0 0 164.9
A. Staggers 0/1 0 0 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
I. Smith 25 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
26 138 2
SEASON ATT YDS TD
291 1597 19
I. Smith 26 138 2 24
G. Payne 24 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 13 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
105 509 2
G. Payne 2 13 0 10
J. Mitchell 80 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 1 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 1 0
J. Mitchell 1 1 0 1
N. Mullens 9 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 -16 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
53 -70 4
N. Mullens 2 -16 0 -7
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
A. Staggers 15 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
11 230 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
74 1395 8
A. Staggers 11 230 1 66
K. Robertson 18 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 49 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
42 486 3
K. Robertson 5 49 0 20
D. Thompson 5 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 40 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
51 550 6
D. Thompson 4 40 0 18
T. Holmes 1 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 6 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
9 108 0
T. Holmes 1 6 0 6
I. Smith 25 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 6 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
44 465 3
I. Smith 1 6 1 6
J. Allen 11 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
20 281 1
J. Allen 1 0 0 0
T. Parks 8 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 9 0
T. Parks 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
J. Poole 85 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-1 0 3.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-1 0 3.0
J. Poole 8-1 3.0 0
P. Nelson Jr. 13 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-0 2 0.0
P. Nelson Jr. 6-0 0.0 0
X. Thigpen 32 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.5
X. Thigpen 5-1 0.5 0
C. Mikell 19 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 2 0.0
C. Mikell 5-0 0.0 0
D. Foster 15 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 2 0.0
D. Foster 5-1 0.0 0
D. Bradley 94 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 1.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 1.5
D. Bradley 3-2 1.5 0
C. Perry 40 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
C. Perry 3-1 0.0 0
E. Parker 17 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.5
E. Parker 2-1 0.5 0
J. Applewhite 7 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
J. Applewhite 2-0 0.0 0
C. Armstrong 3 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
C. Armstrong 2-0 0.0 0
D. Truly 8 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
D. Truly 2-1 0.0 0
T. Moore 18 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 3 0.0
T. Moore 2-0 0.0 1
D. Antoine 12 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.5
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.5
D. Antoine 2-2 0.5 0
S. Ruff 37 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
S. Ruff 1-1 0.0 0
P. Schrimsher 30 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
P. Schrimsher 1-0 0.0 0
D. Yancey 22 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
D. Yancey 0-1 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
P. Shaunfield 21 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/1 4/4
SEASON FG XP
12/15 44/44
P. Shaunfield 0/1 0 4/4 4
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
T. Sarrazin 82 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
4 42.8 2
SEASON NO AVG IN20
57 44.6 2
T. Sarrazin 4 42.8 2 54
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
D. Antoine 12 LB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 4.0 5 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
10 16.7 5 0
D. Antoine 2 4.0 5 0
P. Schrimsher 30 LB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 12.0 12 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
3 10.3 12 0
P. Schrimsher 1 12.0 12 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
A. Staggers 15 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 3.0 3 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
22 9.5 3 1
A. Staggers 1 3.0 3 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
A. Jennings 11 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
40% 95 0 1 69.9
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
58.6% 2273 11 14 116.7
A. Jennings 8/20 95 0 1
A. Riles 2 WR
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
33.3% 48 1 0 277.7
A. Riles 0/1 0 0 0
D. Ray 8 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
D. Ray 0/1 0 0 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
E. McGuire 15 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
17 99 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
249 1226 7
E. McGuire 17 99 0 13
A. Jennings 11 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
20 19 2
SEASON ATT YDS TD
164 360 11
A. Jennings 20 19 2 11
J. Wright 27 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 17 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
64 209 1
J. Wright 2 17 0 12
D. Ray 8 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 11 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
30 129 3
D. Ray 4 11 1 12
A. Riles 2 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 7 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
12 53 0
A. Riles 2 7 0 5
J. Davis 3 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 4 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
8 41 0
J. Davis 1 4 0 4
T. Walker 23 DB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 0 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
2 3 0
T. Walker 1 0 0 0
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
A. Riles 2 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 64 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
65 793 2
A. Riles 5 64 0 20
K. Barnes 21 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 12 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
32 430 6
K. Barnes 1 12 0 12
J. Bradley 17 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 12 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
22 382 1
J. Bradley 1 12 0 12
E. McGuire 15 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 7 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
30 245 2
E. McGuire 1 7 0 7
J. Johnson 7 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
0 0 0
J. Johnson 0 0 0 0
N. Byrne 81 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
14 135 0
N. Byrne 0 0 0 0
M. Jacquet 19 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
14 199 1
M. Jacquet 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
C. Goodlett 10 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-1 0 0.0
C. Goodlett 6-1 0.0 0
Tr. Miller 50 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
Tr. Miller 5-0 0.0 0
D. Mitchell 17 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
D. Mitchell 4-0 0.0 0
T. Lightfoot 4 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 1.0
T. Lightfoot 4-2 1.0 0
O. Peters 7 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 0.0
O. Peters 4-2 0.0 0
J. Bradley 17 WR
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
J. Bradley 4-0 0.0 0
S. Thomas 8 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 2 0.0
S. Thomas 3-1 0.0 0
R. Miles 22 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
R. Miles 3-0 0.0 0
T. Walker 23 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 3 0.0
T. Walker 3-2 0.0 0
T. Crawford 16 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 2 0.0
T. Crawford 3-1 0.0 1
K. Perry 90 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
K. Perry 2-1 0.0 0
D. Howard 34 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
D. Howard 2-0 0.0 0
S. Brown 6 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
S. Brown 2-0 0.0 0
M. Osborne 91 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
M. Osborne 2-0 0.0 0
J. Dillon 3 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 1.0
J. Dillon 1-1 1.0 0
K. Dunbar 55 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
K. Dunbar 1-0 0.0 0
R. Stephens 95 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
R. Stephens 0-1 0.0 0
T. Lee 92 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 1 0.0
T. Lee 0-1 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
S. Artigue 36 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/0 3/3
SEASON FG XP
19/24 32/34
S. Artigue 0/0 0 3/3 3
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
S. Coutts 37 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 41.7 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
70 43.9 1
S. Coutts 6 41.7 1 49
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
L. Varnado 27 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 16.5 19 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
22 15.8 19 0
L. Varnado 2 16.5 19 0
D. Hoggins 23 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 20.0 20 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 17.3 20 0
D. Hoggins 1 20.0 20 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
E. McGuire 15 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 25.0 25 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
5 11.2 25 0
E. McGuire 1 25.0 25 0
L. Varnado 27 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 1.0 1 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
5 9.6 1 0
L. Varnado 1 1.0 1 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
10:36 USM 33 0:57 3 67 TD
8:29 USM 30 1:12 3 70 TD
3:09 USM 19 1:11 3 3 Punt
0:11 USM 27 0:00 1 5
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 USM 32 2:52 10 47 FG Miss
9:57 USM 39 1:47 5 32 FUMBLE
7:23 USM 32 1:33 6 -2 Punt
1:55 USM 20 1:54 10 53
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 USM 25 4:18 13 75 TD
7:19 USM 34 1:48 3 7 Punt
3:40 USM 17 2:56 7 35
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 LALAF 48 2:34 8 48 TD
9:34 USM 8 1:57 3 24 INT
5:05 USM 26 2:53 5 20 Punt
0:12 USM 48 0:00 1 -1
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:55 LALAF 7 4:10 10 32 Punt
9:39 LALAF 25 1:01 3 -4 Punt
7:17 LALAF 19 4:02 11 66 TD
1:50 LALAF 36 1:31 3 1 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:03 LALAF 21 1:57 3 -8 Punt
7:58 USM 29 0:30 2 29 TD
5:39 LALAF 17 3:37 9 61 INT
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
10:35 LALAF 22 3:09 7 46
5:16 LALAF 45 1:26 4 -17 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:26 LALAF 25 2:42 7 21 Punt
7:20 USM 19 2:10 5 19 TD
2:02 LALAF 18 1:42 9 34