HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone
took shot after shot from Southern Mississippi and still left the
Ragone's passing set up Nate Smith's 27-yard field goal in the
second overtime, and when Kurt Jones missed his fourth kick of the
night from 32 yards out, the Cardinals secured a 20-17 victory
The Cardinals (6-4, 4-2 Conference USA) beat the Golden Eagles
(6-4, 4-2) for the third straight season.
Ragone was sacked by Rod Davis for an 8-yard loss on the first
play of the second OT. It was the Golden Eagles' eighth sack of the
night. But the big lefty managed to convert a first down with two
passes to Damien Dorsey.
The drive stalled at the 10, but Smith knocked through his kick
to give Louisville its first lead of the game.
"I'm very thankful we got out of here with a win,'' said
Ragone, who completed 19 of 37 passes for 200 yards, two touchdowns
and no interceptions. "They came at me relentlessly. We are just
fortunate to make one more play than they did.''
Southern Miss got to the 15 on its possession, but Jones -- who
missed a 46-yarder in the first overtime -- pushed it wide right.
"It was just one of those games that you hope you never have,
but it happens,'' Jones said.
Louisville couldn't take advantage of Jones' first OT miss,
fumbling the ball away when Ragone banged into his fullback.
Rayshun Jones recovered for the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss had a chance to take the lead with 2:02 left in
regulation, but Kerry Rhodes leaped high over the line to block
Jones' 37-yard attempt.
Derrick Nix, who missed a game with an injured right leg, ran
for 96 yards on 25 carries. Chris Johnson added eight receptions
for 141 yards, including a 67-yard TD pass from Micky D'Angelo in
the second quarter.
Ragone's strong performance came despite little help from an
offensive line that has struggled all season to protect him.
"I can take hits, too,'' he said. "You just get back up and
make throws, and for the most part I did.''
The Golden Eagles turned three Louisville miscues into scores in
the first half to take a 17-3 lead.
But poor punt coverage, turnovers and penalties by Southern Miss
gave the Cardinals good field position in the third quarter -- and
Ragone cashed in. He threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Tinch
midway through the second quarter, cutting the lead to 17-10.
An interception and long runback by Josh Minkins -- plus a
15-yard personal foul on the Golden Eagles -- set Louisville up at
the Southern Miss 37. On third-and-7, Ragone rolled left, eluded a
rusher and heaved a 34-yard TD to J.R Russell to tie the score late
in the third.
Ragone's left hand was stepped on after the play. He came off
the field holding his hand but didn't miss a play.
D'Angelo threw two TD passes for Southern Mississippi in his
first start since being benched four games ago. He completed 17 of
35 passes for 228 yards and was sacked five times.
"It was like watching two heavyweights slug it out,'' Cardinals
coach John L. Smith said.
The teams combined for eight turnovers, 22 penalties and plenty
of jawing between plays.
"I love playing in this place more than any other place in the
country,'' Ragone said.