HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Freshman Silas Spearman III rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns and Austin Taylor kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6 minutes, 53 seconds, left in the game that gave the Golden Panthers a 24-23 victory over the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss had a chance at the end after a pass interference call moved the ball to the Golden Panthers’ 37-yard line, but Corey Acosta’s 44-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game was tipped at the line and fell far short.
Southern Miss lost its 17th consecutive game, adding to the longest active losing streak in the nation. The Golden Eagles last won a football game when they defeated Nevada 24-17 on Christmas Eve in the 2011 Hawaii Bowl.
FIU (1-4, 1-0 Conference USA), which had lost to FCS Bethune-Cookman and been outscored 110-0 by UCF and Louisville, won its inaugural C-USA football game. Southern Miss (0-5, 0-1) dropped its eighth straight home game.
The Golden Panthers 24 points Saturday were one more than they had scored in their first four games combined and their three touchdowns matched their season total coming into the game.
Southern Miss’ Allan Bridgford completed 26 of 45 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble when sacked near the end of the first half that led to an FIU touchdown.
For Bridgford, a fifth-year transfer from Cal, it was his first game of the season with more than one touchdown pass. But Bridgford now has 11 interceptions through his first five starts for the Golden Eagles, with at least two in each game.
Two of Bridgford’s scoring passes went to Markese Triplett, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury four games into the 2012 season. It was the first multiple touchdown game of his career.
FIU’s Jake Medlock, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 88 yards, was intercepted twice before being pulled late in the first half. Medlock appeared to be shook up after a hard hit while chasing down a bad snap in the end zone that Southern Miss turned into a safety with 2:14 left in the second quarter.
Backup E.J. Hilliard completed 8 of 13 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown, including a 16-yard scoring toss to T.J. Lowder that gave the Golden Panthers a 21-16 halftime lead.
Spearman came into the game with 33 net yards rushing on 22 carries.