Southern Miss Defensive Back Natrone Brooks (#18) nearly scores after returning a punt 77 yards against Florida International on Sunday, Nov. 27 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Miss. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Gazebo Gazette

Frank Gore Jr. threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores and Southern Miss started fast in a 37-17 victory over Florida International on Saturday.

Dajon Richards scored on a 29-yard run to finish off the first drive for the Golden Eagles (3-9, 2-6 Conference USA).

Max Bortenschlager threw a pick on first down for the Panthers (1-11, 0-8) and Gore needed one play to fire a 34-yard scoring strike to Jason Brownlee — one of his two TD catches — for a 14-0 lead.

Southern Miss “Super-Back” Antavious Willis (#11) attemps to break a tackle from two Florida International defenders on Saturday, Nov/ 27, 2021 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Miss. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Southern Miss forced a three-and-out and Natrone Brooks returned the punt 77 yards to the Panthers’ 2-yard line. Gore ran it in on the next play for a 21-0 lead and the Panthers never got closer than seven points from there.

37 points ties the previous high on the season against Grambling State on Sept. 11, 2021. Most points against FBS opponent since scoring 45 against Florida Atlantic on Dec. 10, 2020.

“Really good way to end the year. I’m really proud of these kids and the way they’ve battled,” said Southern Miss Head Football Coach Will Hall.  “It’s been well documented how shorthanded we are, all the stuff these kids have been through, not just this year, but over the last two years.”

Golden Eagles score 35 or more points in consecutive games since Oct. 24, 2020.

After allowing 311 first half yards; the “Nasty Bunch” – USM Defense, rallied and held FIU to 80 total yards and three points in the second half. The Nasty Bunch forced 4 turnovers – 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries in the game.

(Associated Press and Southern Miss Athletics contributed to this article)