Washington defeats Southern Miss in Dallas

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, December 26, 2015

DALLAS (AP) – Myles Gaskin broke a third-quarter tie with an 86-yard run and finished with a season-high 181 yards and four touchdowns to help Washington beat Southern Mississippi 44-31 on Saturday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The Huskies (7-6) won their last two regular-season games by a combined 97-17 over Oregon State and Washington State to become bowl eligible and then delivered Chris Petersen’s first postseason victory in his two seasons at Washington.

Gaskin’s other scores came on 2- and 1-yard runs in the first quarter and a 13-yarder in the fourth. On the 86-yarder, the freshman took a handoff inside, broke to the left sideline and shook off one final defender at the Southern Miss 35.

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Gaskin, the game’s most valuable player, gained 170 yards in the second half on 17 carries after being held to 11 yards on nine rushes in the first half. His previous high was 155 yards against Oregon.

The Golden Eagles (9-5) were seeking their first win over a Power 5 conference team since 2011.

They played without rushing leader Jalen Richard. A Southern Miss official said Richard, one of two Golden Eagles with 1,000 yards rushing this season, was held because of an unspecified injury.

Nick Mullens threw touchdowns passes of 56 and 27 yards by Michael Thomas for the Eagles, and Ito Smith added 1- and 2-yard scoring runs.

The Golden Eagles averaged 519.8 yards during the regular season, including their 45-28 loss to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA championship game. On Saturday, they gained 375. They were held to 22 net rushing yards with Smith, who gained 1,088 during the season, leading the way with 40.

Gaskin’s 86-yard run was the sixth-longest in school history. It came on Washington’s first play from scrimmage after Southern Miss recovered a fumble near midfield to set up Smith’s second touchdown run that tied it at 24.

Tomas set a Southern Miss record with 14 touchdown catches this season.

Receiver Jaydon Mickens scored Washington’s other touchdown on a 29-yard run in the second quarter. Mickens took a handoff on what appeared to be an end around following a fake inside, then cut inside and was virtually untouched. The five-play, 65-yard drive included a 20-yard pass to Mickens that was upheld after a challenge from Southern Miss.

Smith’s 1-yard touchdown plunge through the middle followed a 36-yard catch by Thomas along the left sideline just short of the pylon.

That 80-yard drive was kept alive by punter Tyler Sarrazin’s 22-yard pass to Curtis Mikell on fourth-and-5 at the Golden Eagles 25. In Southern Miss’ win at Rice in mid-November, Sarrazin threw for a touchdown off a fake field-goal attempt.

Washington was invited to fill the slot appropriated for the Big 12 Conference, which didn’t have enough bowl-eligible teams.