What we learned from USM's 38-14 loss to North Texas

Mikey DiLullo
Hattiesburg American

Southern Miss football fell again Saturday, losing to North Texas 38-14 in Hattisburg for its seventh consecutive loss this season.

The Golden Eagles opened strong, with Jake Lange hitting Jason Brownlee for a touchdown and Jay Stanley returning an interception 55 yards for a score.

From there, though, it was all Mean Green as North Texas scored 38 unanswered points.

USM fell to 1-8, 0-5 in Conference USA play. North Texas improved to 3-6, 2-3 CUSA.

Here's what we learned:

USM can't keep up fast start

The Golden Eagles had a dominant first quarter, holding a two-score lead to start the second period.

Despite North Texas getting on the board in the second quarter, Southern Miss carried some momentum into halftime after stopping North Texas on goal-to-go. However, the momentum was short-lived and UNT capitalized on USM's second-half mistakes.

North Texas Mean Green defensive back DeShawn Gaddie (2) tries to block a pass from Southern Miss Golden Eagles quarterback Jake Lange (24) during the first quarter of a football game in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

Frank Gore Jr. stays hot

The previous week against Middle Tennessee State, the sophomore rushed for 83 yards, the most he's had against an FBS opponent this season. He one-upped that performance Saturday, rushing for 82 yards on 6.8 yards per carry, including a 38-yard run to set up USM's first touchdown.

That yards-per-carry average was the highest for Gore since Week 2 against Grambling State.

Offensive line issues

The Golden Eagles' offensive line allowed two crucial sacks to swing momentum in the third quarter. The first led to a Lange fumble, which UNT returned for a score. The second came on fourth-and-short in the red zone, ending a promising USM drive. On its ensuing possession, North Texas scored a field goal.

What's next

Southern Miss will travel to UTSA next Saturday.