NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Damion Fletcher rushed for 136 yards and two
touchdowns as Southern Mississippi defeated Tulane 31-3 Saturday
Southern Miss (6-4, 4-2 Conference USA) allowed Tulane's offense
to gain only 85 yards.
"I thought we played really well on defense," Eagles coach
Jeff Bower said. "You hold an offense like that, one that was
averaging 36 points a game here, to three points, that's pretty
Southern Miss' defense even outscored Tulane when defensive back
LeVance Richmond had a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown that
gave the Eagles a 17-3 lead early in the fourth quarter.
"That was a real big play in the game," Fletcher said. "It
changed the whole game. Our offense couldn't really get anything
going and when he made that play, it really sparked everything.
Things just started rolling from there."
Tulane (3-7, 1-5) played without leading rusher Matt Forte, who
has a knee injury, and mostly without quarterback Lester Ricard,
who was benched after throwing three incompletions and an
interception in his first four attempts.
Ricard's replacement, Scott Elliott, completed 3-of-8 for 30
yards before Ricard returned after the Golden Eagles had taken a
24-3 midway through the fourth quarter. Ricard finished 1-of-8 for
"Southern Miss' defensive front just intimidated our whole
offense," Tulane coach Chris Scelfo said. "It was embarrassing.
I'm embarrassed to be the coach of this offense. I'm embarrassed
for our offensive coaches and players."
The Golden Eagles took a 7-0 first-quarter lead on Fletcher's
2-yard touchdown run. They were in position to increase the lead on
their next possession, but on fourth-and-goal from the Green Wave 1
David Skeehan stopped Fletcher for a loss of three yards.
Southern Miss got the ball back three plays later when Caleb
Hendrix intercepted Ricard at the Tulane 33. That led to Darren
McCaleb's 24-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.
On the Green Wave's next possession, Elliott replaced Ricard and
the Green Wave converted two fourth downs on the way to Russ
Thevenot's 40-yard field goal that cut the Golden Eagles' lead to
10-3 at halftime.
Both teams were scoreless in the third quarter. Early in the
fourth quarter, Tulane running back Ade Tuyo fumbled and Southern
Miss' LeVance Richmond picked up the ball and ran 50 yards for a
touchdown and a 17-3 lead.
Fletcher's 4-yard touchdown run made it 24-3 with 7:22
remaining, and Tory Harrison's 10-yard touchdown run completed the
scoring with 46 seconds left.
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