By Ryan Nelson (@TheRyanNelson_)
NEW ORLEANS - Allenzae Staggers racked up a New Orleans Bowl record 230 receiving yards on the game to lead the Golden Eagles to a 28-21 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette.
His 202 yards in the first two quarters alone was enough to etch his name name in New Orleans Bowl history for most yards in a half.
Staggers picked a pass from QB Nick Mullens out of the sky for a touchdown early in the third quarter to give the Golden Eagles a 21-14 lead.
You’re only shocked if you’re unfamiliar with Southern Miss or Conference USA, because he’s no stranger to superhuman performances. Staggers caught six passes against Rice for 292 yards earlier this season.
Mullens Gives Ragin' Cajuns Plenty to Mull over
The Southern Miss offensive game plan could be boiled down to three words -- air it out.
Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens torched the Ragin’ Cajuns defense for 346 yards and two touchdowns. His total for passing yards is a Southern Miss bowl record.
Mullens found WR Staggers, and versatile RB Ito Smith, for passing scores. Smith totaled three scores on the day, in addition to two rushing touchdowns in a 138 yard rushing performance.
Mullens' ceremonious exit is befitting of his historic collegiate career. He leaves the Golden Eagle program behind with records for most career passing yards (11,994), and career passing touchdowns (87).
Golden Eagles Outshine Their Flaws
Coming into this game, Southern Miss was for tied for 125th in the FBS in turnover margin.
Mullens fumbled early in the second quarter, leading to a quick score from ULL RB Dion Ray on the ensuing drive.
In the fourth, Mullens was picked off by Louisiana-Lafayette’s Travis Crawford. This mistake also proved costly, as ULL QB Anthony Jennings punched it in from three yards out.
Nonetheless, the explosive, yet balanced offensive game plan of the Golden Eagles was enough to keep a Ragin' Cajuns resurgence at bay.
Ragin' Cajun Offense a No Geaux
ULL couldn’t keep up with the Golden Eagle offensive machine. Southern Miss lapped ULL in offensive output, racking up 468 yards of offense versus 252 for the Ragin' Cajuns.
Jennings struggled on the game, completing just eight passes for 95 yards and an interception.