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Southern Miss offense erupts, but Golden Eagles fall short in loss at Appalachian State

A sudden offensive outburst wasn’t enough to end the skid.

Frank Gore Jr. ran for a season-high 247 yards, but it was Appalachian State (4-4, 2-2) that escaped Southern Miss (1-7, 0-5) with a 48-38 win in Boone.

The Golden Eagles maintained a lead for more than three quarters, but the Mountaineers used scoring plays of 61 and 49 yards in the fourth quarter to steal the contest and iced it in the final moments with a 21-yard scoring toss from Joey Aguilar to Christian Horn.

“Really disappointed we weren’t able to pull out the win,” USM head coach Will Hall told Southern Miss radio after the game.

It’s the seventh loss in a row for Southern Miss, which is still on the hunt for its first FBS win of the season.

It was the first game of Hall’s career where he didn’t call plays. Hall announced following the South Alabama loss he would relinquish the offensive game plan and game day operations to offensive line coach Sam Gregg and quarterbacks coach Jordy Joseph.

The result was a season-high 588 yards of offense, 33 first downs for the first time in a game since 2015 and an FBS-game-high 38 points.

“Offensively, I thought we were extremely explosive and did some good things,” Hall said. “I thought Sam Gregg and Jordy Joseph did a phenomenal job.”

Gore Jr. scored two touchdowns, including a 75-yard jaunt, and averaged 10.3 yards per touch. Receiver Ty Mims caught 10 passes for a career-high 141 yards.

But the Mountaineers scored four different touchdowns of 20-plus yards and had little trouble eating up yardage behind Aguilar’s 391 passing yards and Horn’s 165 yards receiving.

It was the fourth game in the previous five for USM that was a one-score contest in the fourth quarter after the Golden Eagles entered the final 15 minutes with a 31-28 lead.

“We’ve grown a lot this year, we’ve been through a lot,” Hall said. “We’re going to play our freaking hearts out next week at The Rock.”

Southern Miss returns home next week to face ULM. That game will kick off at 3 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN+.