HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Another tough night away from home.
Marshall remained winless in three road games this year while dropping its second consecutive decision Saturday night following a 24-14 setback to host Southern Miss in a Conference USA matchup at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
The visiting Herd (2-6, 1-3 CUSA) never led in the contest as the Golden Eagles (5-3, 3-1) utilized a punishing ground attack that ultimately led to a 2-to-1 advantage in total yards of offense.
USM churned out 174 rushing yards on 45 carries while producing another 300 yards through the air for a total of 474 yards, compared to just 60 rushing yards on 25 carries and 166 passing yards for Marshall’s final tally of 226 total yards of offense.
Southern Miss also retained offensive possession for 34:10 of the 60 minutes played. Marshall did finish the game plus-1 in turnover differential.
The hosts took the opening kickoff and covered 75 yards in 15 plays, which led to a 7-0 lead following a one-yard Ito Smith run with 9:29 remaining in the first quarter.
Southern Miss added to its lead with a 44-yard field goal by Parker Shaunfield at the 14:07 mark of the second canto, giving the hosts a 10-0 edge.
After four consecutive drives ended in punts, MU finally made it into the scoring column after an eight-play, 89-yard drive ended with a Keion Davis five-yard touchdown run for a 10-7 deficit with 6:47 remaining in the half.
Marshall was ultimately never closer the rest of the way as the Golden Eagles entered halftime clinging to a slim three-point lead.
Neither team produced points in the third canto, but USM ended the drought early in the fourth following a 10-play, 83-yard drive that was capped off by a four-yard TD pass to Allenzae Staggers from Nick Mullens. The hosts led 17-7 with 12:08 left in regulation.
Following a pair of punts and a blocked field goal attempt by Amoreto Curraj, the Golden Eagles drove the proverbial nail in the coffin with a four-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in points.
Smith broke off a 40-yard run with 4:23 remaining, which gave Southern Miss a resounding 24-7 advantage.
The Herd answered with a four-play, 53-yard drive that trimmed the deficit back down to 10 points as Michael Clark covered 44 yards following a completion from Chase Litton with 2:26 left.
The Golden Eagles claimed a 26-11 advantage in first downs and were also penalized four times for 44 yards, compared to five flags for 65 yards for the guests.
Davis led the Marshall ground attack with 52 yards on 11 carries, followed by Hyleck Foster with 40 yards on nine totes.
Litton finished the night 20-of-34 passing for 166 yards, which included one touchdown and zero interceptions. Litton was also sacked three times for a total loss of 33 yards.
Josh Knight led the MU wideouts with six catches for 47 yards, followed by Deon-Tay McManus with five grabs for 19 yards. Clark also hauled in four passes for 87 yards.
Kendall Gant, Frankie Hernandez and Rodney Allen all paced the Herd with eight tackles. Ryan Bee also had a 23-yard return on a fumble recovery, while Hernandez recorded a sack.
Smith led the USM ground attack with 146 yards on 26 carries. Mullens ended the night completing 22-of-40 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown.
Staggers led the Southern Miss wideouts with seven catches for 99 yards. Cornell Armstrong led the winning defense with eight tackles.
Marshall returns to Conference USA action next Saturday when it travels to Norfolk (Va.) to battle Old Dominion at 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters is the Ohio Valley Publishing sports editor and can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.