So. Miss Saves CUSA From Winless Bowl Season
by Mike Mitchell
Southern Miss beat Ohio 28-7 in the GMAC Bowl, saving CUSA (1-4) from a winless bowl season, and keeping Ohio winless (0-3) in its bowl history. The Bobcats were playing in their first bowl game since losing to Richmond in the 1968 Tangerine Bowl.
The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, were playing in their fifth straightbowl contest, and ninth in the last ten years.
Southern Miss' experience and superior talent became obvious 6-1/2 minutes into the second quarter when USM blew open a scoreless game. Tory Harrison's 43-yard run made it 7-0 and, 5-1/2 minutes later, Damion Fletcher's 2-yard run gave Southern Miss a 14-0 lead.
That deficit put Ohio at an extreme disadvantage as the Bobcats' passing game produced more turnovers than touchdowns in the regular season, with 13 interceptions and 8 scores. Sure enough, as Ohio tried to go airborne at the end of the half, James Denley returned an intercepted Brad Bower pass 18 yards for a 21-0 lead for the Golden Eagles at halftime.
Fletcher's second touchdown on a 9-yard in the 3rd quarter boosted the Southern Miss lead to 28-0. That score came at the end of a ball-hawking 17-play drive that went 80 yards and lasted just under ten minutes.
Though Ohio finished the bowl game with 2 INT's, the Bobcats did manage to score the first passing touchdown of their last six games when Austen Everson connected with Thomas Christy on a 13-yard scoring play with 9:34 left to avoid the shutout. Everson threw for 176 yards, his second-best total of the year. But the rushing game, which averaged 155.4 per game, was held to just 46 yards by the Southern Miss defense.