Gore runs for bowl record 329 yards, Southern Miss tops Rice

Robert McDuffie-USA TODAY Sports
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MOBILE, Ala. – Frank Gore Jr. ran for an NCAA bowl-record 329 yards and accounted for three touchdowns to help Southern Miss hold off Rice 38-24 on Saturday night in the LendingTree Bowl.

Gore, the son of the former NFL star, had a 64-yard scoring run in the second quarter, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass in the third and ran for 55 yards for another score in the fourth. He also ran 59 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown for the Golden Eagles (7-6).

Gore, who had 21 carries, broke the mark of 317 yards set by Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples in the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl against North Texas. Gore broke the Southern Miss record of 304 by Sam Dejarnette against Florida State in 1982.

“He’s a special guy,” Southern Miss coach Will Hall said. “He’s really learned how to be a leader. He’s really learned how to handle the responsibility of being Frank Gore Jr., and he has embraced that, and he’s embraced the whole deal of to whom much is given, much is required.

“He’s always intense and competitive and I’m just really proud he was able to have a performance like this on a national stage where a lot of people could see it. He’s got a chip on his shoulder like his short coach does.”

Rice quarterback AJ Padgett threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns – all in the third quarter – to give the Owls (5-8) a brief 24-17 lead. He threw 26 and 32 yards to Isaiah Esdale to tie a game Southern Miss led 17-3 at halftime, then connected with Bradley Rozner to put Rice up 24-17 with 5:06 left in the third.

Gore’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Ty Mims – his seventh passing score of the season – tied it at 24 after three quarters. Trey Lowe threw a 26-yard touchdown to Jason Brownlee on the second play of the fourth quarter to give the Golden Eagles the lead at 31-24, and Gore’s 55-yarder capped the scoring with 2:57 left.

“We did a lot of good things in that third quarter, but you have to take your hat off to Southern Miss that they were able to run the ball the way they did,” Rice coach Mike Bloomgren said. “It was kind of the Frank Gore show. But we knew what kind of back Frank Gore Jr. is, what a great back, what a great runner he is. Tonight he was phenomenal. We didn’t do a good enough job tackling, and we didn’t make enough plays on offense to win the game.”

Gore said his father was at the game, and met him on the field prior to the trophy presentation. Frank Gore Sr.’s career-best rushing total in a 16-year NFL career was 212 yards for the San Francisco 49ers against Seattle in 2006.

“I told him (about the record) when he came on the field and let him know that I’m the best in the family,” the younger Gore said. “Thanks to my O-line, they opened up a lot of good holes and got me into the secondary. As Coach (Hall) said, the first person could rarely tackle me. And if you’re able to get down the field untouched, that leads to a lot of big plays.”

Linebacker Daylen Gill had three of Southern Miss’ season-high five sacks.

Lowe threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jakarius Caston to give Southern Miss a 7-0 lead at the 12:20 mark of the first quarter. Gore’s 64-yard run made it 14-0 early in the second.

Field goals of 34 yards by Rice’s Christian VanSickle and 18 yards by Southern Miss’ Brooks Bourgeois closed out the first-half scoring.

IMPRESSIVE BLOODLINES

Gore was not the only player on the field with famous NFL relatives. Rice wide receiver Luke McCaffrey, the son of former Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey and the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers star Christian, caught seven passes for 67 yards and also ran for 11 yards.

Luke McCaffrey transferred to Rice in 2021 from Nebraska, where he was a quarterback. He converted to receiver this past spring.

THE TAKEAWAY

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles finish with a winning record in the second season under coach Will Hall and snapped a two-game losing streak vs. the Owls, their former Conference USA rival. Southern Miss now leads the all-time series 7-6 and is 12-15 in bowl games.

Rice: The Owls, the only FBS team with a losing record to play in a postseason game this year, is now 7-6 all-time in bowls. Rice was in the postseason for the first time since 2014.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.