BOCA RATON, Fla. (WDAM) _ Five turnovers by quarterback Jack Abraham, including four interceptions, helped doom the Southern Miss to a 34-17 defeat Saturday at Florida Atlantic in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“It didn’t bounce our way, for sure,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. “Way too many turnovers and we had a couple of missed assignments.
“But other than those missed assignments, we were fairly steady for the most part defensively. Offensively, we had a rough day.”
The win clinched Conference USA’s East Division for the Owls (9-3) and locked a host spot for them in Saturday’s C-USA championship game, where theyy will take on UAB.
The loss, Southern Miss’ second in a row to end conference play, ruined any hopes the Golden Eagles had harbored of earning the East Division crown and earning a title game spot.
Instead, Southern Miss (7-5) will wait to hear whether its bowl eligibility will be rewarded with a postseason slot.
The Golden Eagles held the football for more than 38 minutes, running 76 plays on offense. But Southern Miss managed just 258 yards total offense, its worst output against conference competition and second-lowest on the season only to the 228 yards at Alabama.
“All around, pretty tough day at the office, offensively,” Hopson said. “I was proud of their fight. I thought we played hard … But we just kept giving them the ball in short field positions.”
Two Zac Everett punts, one of 7 yards, the other of 23 yards, set up the Owls deep in Southern Miss territory. Two of Abraham’s interceptions came inside the FAU 10-yard line.
All told, the five turnovers led directly to 14 FAU points.
FAU managed just 300 yards total yards, but had two touchdown drives of two plays and a third consisting of one.
FAU quarterback Chris Robison completed just eight passes, but three went for touchdowns to Harrison Bryant. Robison was intercepted by Malik Shorts in the second quarter, leading to Southern Miss’ first touchdown.
Trailing 17-0, the Golden Eagles scored on a 23-yard field goal by Andrew Stein and an 8-yard run by Steven Anderson (54 yards rushing) to get within 17-10 at halftime.
But FAU went back up by two scores when Abraham was sacked and fumbled, with the Owls returning the ball to the 3-yard line.
FAU running back B.J. Emmons (71 yards rushing) scored on the next play for a 24-10 lead.
Abraham, who completed 25-of-39 passes for 182 yards, capped a 70-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run to pull Southern Miss within 24-17 later in the third quarter.
But Abraham was intercepted twice in a fourth quarter that saw the Owls outscore the Golden Eagles 10-0 to lock up the win.