Despite 1-11 season, Monken has Southern Miss believing success is near

UNDATED (WLOX) - It wasn't a full two years, but the 706-day span between Southern Miss wins seemed like a lot longer duration.

The Golden Eagles (1-11, 1-7) came up with an emphatic way to dissolve a 23-game losing streak in Birmingham. The 62-27 victory happened against a UAB Blazers team that had beaten Southern Miss in each of the last four meetings.

"Everything you do is to sing the fight song in the locker room with everybody else that's there," Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken said. "It's something that no drug or alcohol can make you feel the same way that it does to do as a group of people and have success."

UAB led 21-13 at halftime, igniting more skepticism among the Southern Miss fanbase. Was it really possible that Southern Miss, a football program not even two years removed from a Conference-USA championship, would grudgingly move forward with a 24-game losing streak?

It certainly was possible, but as evident in the second half, anything is possible.

Southern Miss placed 28 points on the board in the third quarter alone. That output surpassed the Golden Eagles' production in any other game this season.

Those four touchdowns, which were all converted with the assistance of freshman quarterback Nick Mullens, weren't satisfying enough for a team entering the game with Mississippi-sized frustration.

Mullens capped off his 370-yard passing day by sandwiching his fifth touchdown to Markese Triplett between two Kendrick Hardy fourth-quarter touchdown runs.

Southern Miss forced UAB (2-10, 1-7) to swallow a massive plate of pigskin in the second half. The 49 points by the Golden Eagles after halftime were the most points the Blazers allowed in a single half this season.

In fact, the last time UAB surrendered that many points in a half was Nov. 1, 2008, when the Blazers lost 70-14 to the Golden Eagles. That was also the last time Southern Miss beat UAB.

"The past two years this team has been through a lot without winning a game," Southern Miss senior wide receiver Dominique Sullivan said. "It took us [Saturday] to get the 'W', but this year coach Monken just kept talking to us, saying never give up and keep working."

USM head coach Todd Monken faced a lot of questions before the season started.

Will he turn around the program? Who is the starting quarterback? Will the team approve of him?

"During the beginning of the season, we had high expectations for each other," Southern Miss senior defensive lineman Octavius Thomas said. "Coach Monken is a great coach. He's a player's coach. I'm just sorry it took so long for him to get this [win]."

The players believe in him. The fans believe in him and the team despite winning just one game in 2013.

Now it's just a matter of waiting 272 days -- Aug. 30, 2014, on the road against Mississippi State -- to prove to Golden Eagles nation that this team is on the way to the top.