Trey Lowe threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, Camron Harrell returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD, and Southern Miss (USM) beat Florida Atlantic 45-31 on Thursday night in the season finale for both teams.
FAU (5-3, 4-2 Conference USA), the conference champion last season, was eliminated from contention for the 2020 title. The Owls, who went into the game ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring defense (12.4), allowed more than 20 points for the first time this season.
Lowe was 13-of-19 passing for 209 yards with an interception and added 70 yards rushing and a score on 16 carries. Freshman Frank Gore Jr. had 111 yards rushing, including a 73-yard in the first quarter, for Southern Miss (3-7, 2-4).
“They were one of the top scoring defenses in the country. I think they were second or third in the nation. They’ve been good all year, not just early in the year,” said USM Interim Head Football Tim Billings in response to The Gazebo Gazette. “We just felt like we needed to find a way to run the football.”
The Golden Eagles racked up a total of 514 offensive yards in Thursday night’s game, marking the first time that they have totaled 500 or more yards of offense in a game since October 12, 2019 versus North Texas.
Gulf Coast native and USM Receiver Tim Jones caught a 5-yard touchdown pass that capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive and gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good at 24-17 with 8 seconds left in the first half. Jason Brownlee scored on a 43-yard catch-and-run to give Southern Miss a 14-point lead nearly four minutes into the third quarter.
After registering six catches on Thursday, Jones now has 150 catches to his name as a Golden Eagle. Jones has now surpassed Todd Pinkston (1996-99) on the Southern Miss career receptions list, earning him the fourth place ranking.
Charles, who finished with 16 carries for 79 yards, scored on a one yard run to trim FAU’s deficit to 31-24. Harrell returned the kickoff for a score and the Owls then went three-and-out. But a lateral pass by Lowe bounced off its intended target and Armani Adams’ 43-yard scoop-and-score made it 38-31 with 54 seconds left in the third.
Kevin Perkins, who finished with 15 carries for 71 yards rushing, capped the scoring with a 3-yard run with 4:55 to play.
Harrell added six tackles — one for a loss — and two passes defended.