NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Southern Mississippi had an unwanted layoff
but didn't lose its penchant for creating turnovers and converting
them into points.
The Golden Eagles (2-0) did it three times and added a strong
second-half running game in a 32-14 victory over Tulane on Saturday
night in the Conference USA opener for both teams.
The Eagles broke free for 195 rushing yards in the second half
to finish with 305 yards on the ground.
"In the first half we were kind of sluggish," said Anthony
Harris, who led USM with 118 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21
carries. "We started slow and were always one block away. In the
second half we drove down on the first series and got points and
then the offense got in a groove. We started executing better."
Dustin Almond added two touchdown passes, completing 15-of-22
passes for 152 yards for Southern Miss.
"They just ran over us," Tulane coach Chris Scelfo said.
"They hit us in the mouth and we didn't respond very well. They
were a more physical team than us tonight."
Both teams were playing for the first time in two weeks, each
having postponed home games last week because of the threat from
Lester Ricard completed 6-of-15 for 55 yards and one touchdown
for Tulane (1-2), but was intercepted twice, with both turnovers
leading to scores.
The Southern Miss defense, which set up 18 points by forcing
five Nebraska turnovers in an upset at Lincoln, created a scoring
opportunity on the first possession of Saturday's game.
Michael Boley hit Ricard while he was attempting to pass and
Trevis Coley intercepted and returned the ball to the Green Wave
Three plays later, Wayne Hardy ran in from the 1.
Almond threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Antwon Courington, then
ran for a two-point conversion to give USM a 14-0 lead with 9:48
left in the second quarter.
That completed a 95-yard drive that began with a questionable
call as Ricard was ruled to have fumbled, although it appeared the
ball came loose after his elbow hit the turf.
On Tulane's next possession, Ricard threw a 13-yard touchdown
pass to Carl Davis on third-and-5 to cut USM's lead to 14-7 with
6:48 left in the second quarter, but that would be as close as the
The Eagles took the second-half kickoff and drove 64 yards for
Darren McCaleb's 22-yard field goal, which gave them a 17-7 lead.
The Green Wave drove into scoring position on the next
possession, but Jackson was stopped for a 2-yard loss on
fourth-and-2 at the USM 21.
Almond's 22-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Young gave the Eagles
a 23-7 lead with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
After McCaleb's 26-yard field goal, Martavious Prince
intercepted Ricard to give USM the ball at the Tulane 2-yard line
and Harris scored on the next play to make the score 32-7 with 8:41
The Green Wave's Ray Boudreaux scored on a 25-yard run to cut
the lead to 32-14 with 4:50 left.
Tulane's Jovon Jackson rushed for 112 yards on 18 carries.