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News Nuggets, 10.15.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

'Bama matchup evokes perils of 2000 ECU game for USM


10.14.04: Thompson: Pinkney's redshirt year safe and secure ... Schnellenberger ringside for U of L vs. Miami ... More...
10.13.04: JV Pirates live up to varsity's example — Toronto approves bid to host bowl game ... More...
10.12.04: Herrion anoints Badiane, Cook as team's leaders ... No. 1 Southern Miss QB to miss 'Bama game ... Tar Heel trio sacked by pot charges ... More...
10.11.04: College football weekend: stars & storylines ... C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Associated Press football poll ... More...
10.10.04: Army sheds losing ways at Bearcats' expense ... Conference USA & Carolinas football scoreboard ... More...
10.09.04: Future looks lonely for Temple Owls football ... Coug legend Drexler enshrined in hoops Hall ... More...
10.08.04: Golden Eagles claw out overtime win over Houston
— ESPN2 HD to debut with C-USA doubleheader ... More...
10.07.04: Southern Miss road warriors back home for primetime ... Louisville building $10 million baseball stadium ... More...
10.06.04: Reported dispute with coach nets suspension for ECU's Fox ... Holtz sanctions receiver over academic issues ... More...
10.05.04: Billikens' 15-game TV package includes visit to Minges
— Loss yanks West Virginia back down to earth ... More...
10.04.04: College football weekend: stars & storylines ... C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... AP college football poll ... More...
10.03.04: Gamecocks spring surprise in Tuscaloosa ... Pioneer Hayden Fry to receive Stagg award ... More...
10.02.04: Memphis hopes to shed first half doldrums against Houston ... Joy of winning may be short-lived for SMU ... More...
10.01.04: Punishing regimen hardens Louisville's defense ... Gamecocks' "Pops" goes late night ... Ross's challenge at Army proves to be a daunting one ... More...
09.30.04: Deja Vu ECU? Florida A&M prez fired amidst turmoil ... Marshall hangs on to break into win column ... Pessimism wanes at SMU after long skid ends ... More...
09.29.04: Herd trying to head off worst start in decades ... C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... AP college football poll ... More...
09.28.04: Bearcat sack artist honored for disrupting Pirates ... C-USA teams pepper preseason hoops poll ... More...

It took nearly four years for Southern Mississippi to get back into the AP Top 25. If it wants to stay there, it's going to have pull out a win without its star quarterback.

The Golden Eagles haven't been ranked since Nov. 12, 2000, when they were 24th before a 14-9 home loss to East Carolina knocked them out of the AP poll.

Once again USM is No. 24, but this time they'll have to win a road game against an old rival from the Southeastern Conference to protect their ranking. The Golden Eagles look to win their fifth straight game to start the season when they visit Alabama on Saturday.

Southern Miss (4-0) blew a 14-point lead and trailed for most of the second half in its game against Houston on Oct. 7, but forced overtime on starting quarterback Dustin Almond's 18-yard touchdown run with 1:22 remaining.

Almond, however, left the game after pulling a hamstring in his left leg on the run, forcing Damion Carter to come in.

Carter threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Otho Graves in overtime, giving Southern Miss a 35-29 victory.

It was just Carter's third pass of the season, and his only attempt of the game, but it helped Southern Miss improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1981.

The victory was the Golden Eagles' 12th straight in Conference USA play and propelled them into the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 12, 2000, when they were also 24th before a 14-9 home loss to East Carolina knocked them out of the AP poll.

Carter will start Saturday after Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower announced Monday that Almond, 57-of-105 for 663 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions this season, will miss the game.

``Dustin will be out for a while,'' Bower said. ``We don't know how long.''

Carter will be starting against the Crimson Tide for the second straight year. He was ineffective in last year's meeting, going 5-of-8 for 29 yards before being benched for Almond midway through the second quarter of Alabama's 17-3 win.

``He'll be fine and will rise to the challenge,'' Bower said of Carter. ``It's a confidence booster to them the way he played at the end of the Houston game. I think that will be a big help for him.''

Alabama's up-and-down season continued last Saturday when it beat Kentucky 45-17 to snap a two-game offensive funk and losing streak.

The Crimson Tide (4-2) scored on four straight second-half possessions after scoring just 13 points in their previous two defeats, and in the process, might have found a replacement for injured quarterback Brodie Croyle.

Marc Guillon had initially replaced Croyle, but turned in two straight ineffective performances. Guillon suffered a minor back injury last week in practice, causing Alabama coaches to start Spencer Pennington against Kentucky.

Pennington, a junior making only his second career start, mostly handed off the football — Alabama ran on 63 of its 74 offensive plays — but he also passed effectively, completing his first six throws and finishing 7-of-11 for 83 yards. In the second quarter, he engineered a 99-yard touchdown drive.

``The main thing was he played smart,'' Alabama coach Mike Shula said. ``He made good decisions and didn't try to force the ball. We were fortunate enough to run the ball fairly successfully. Because of that, we got some good looks in the throwing game.

``That's going to give him a lot of confidence and hopefully we can build on that for this week.''

The celebration was muted by the loss of starting tailback Ray Hudson, who injured his right knee midway through the third quarter. Shula said the senior's status was uncertain pending an MRI.

Hudson is the SEC's No. 2 rusher, running for 638 yards and four touchdowns in his first season as a starter. Sophomore Ken Darby ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns in place of Hudson last week, and is expected to see more action Saturday if Hudson can't go.

``He's dangerous any time he's got the ball in his hands,'' Shula said of Hudson. ``We think Ken Darby can be that way, too. I don't know that he's quite as fast as Ray, but he's also got some explosion.''

Miami comeback brings cocky Cardinals down to Earth

MIAMI — The Louisville Cardinals drew a flag for excessive celebration in the second quarter, and another in the third. Against Miami, the displays of jubilation were premature.

Led by Brock Berlin and Devin Hester, the third-ranked Hurricanes erased a 17-point deficit over the final 20 minutes and came from behind twice in the fourth quarter to beat No. 18 Louisville 41-38 Thursday night.

Berlin threw three touchdown passes and directed the winning drive, a 56-yard march capped by Frank Gore's 1-yard run with 49 seconds left.

``We kind of got ourselves in a hole,'' Berlin said. ``Some things weren't working. But we proved what type of character our team has.''

Gore's touchdown capped a seesaw fourth quarter. Hester scored on a 78-yard punt return to put Miami ahead 34-31, but Louisville regained the lead when freshman backup quarterback Brian Brohm directed an 80-yard touchdown drive.

Stefan LeFors threw three touchdown passes for Louisville before being sidelined with a concussion in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals (4-1) had touted the game as perhaps the biggest in school history, and they rose to the occasion. The Hurricanes (5-0) narrowly averted only the second loss in their past 30 games at the Orange Bowl to remain in the race for their sixth national championship since 1983.

``A tremendous win,'' coach Larry Coker said. ``The guys didn't flinch. They didn't give up. Our guys really, really fought to the end.''

Much of the credit belonged to Berlin, the target of boos when Miami fell behind in the first half. He suffered a bruised chest in the second quarter but didn't miss a play and finished 25-of-37 for 308 yards, including a completion on fourth-and-4 to keep the winning drive alive.

``I was hurting pretty good,'' Berlin said. ``But I never considered coming out of the game.''

He threw touchdown passes of 9 yards to Greg Olsen, 14 yards to Roscoe Parrish and 11 yards to Akieem Jolla. Miami scored on all six possessions in the second half.

But Brohm had the Hurricanes worried until the final play. The game ended with an interception of his Hail Mary pass from midfield, and then a shoving match between the teams.

Louisville used multiple wideouts — sometimes with an empty backfield — to spread out the Hurricanes and kept them guessing, even trying a flea-flicker in the first quarter that fell incomplete. In the open field the Cardinals were fast enough to match Miami's vaunted speed, to the alarm of the crowd of 63,715.

The Hurricanes trailed 24-7 at halftime and 31-14 late in the third quarter. An early goal-line stand suggested the Cardinals meant business, and 24 consecutive points in the first half confirmed it.

LeFors finished 17-of-22 for 244 yards. Lionel Gates scored three times and Tiger Jones caught two touchdown passes for the Cardinals, who totaled 507 yards against a defense that had given up only one touchdown in its first four games.

Gates also took a short snap on a fake punt and ran 39 yards to set up a touchdown.

Berlin directed consecutive scoring drives of 76, 66 and 87 yards in the second half to cut Miami's deficit to 31-24. The Cardinals then committed their first turnover when LeFors fumbled a snap on his final play, setting up Jon Peattie's second field goal to make it 31-27 with 12 minutes left.

When the highly touted Brohm entered the game for the first time, Miami forced a punt. Hester found a seam up the middle to score untouched — his third touchdown on a punt return this season.

``What can you say about Devin Hester?'' Coker said. ``He's certainly one of the most exciting players I've ever seen. He makes fast players look slow.''

The touchdown put the Hurricanes ahead 34-31 with 8:11 left. But Brohm rallied the Cardinals, and Gates scored on a 1-yard run with 4:30 to go.

Then it was Hester's turn again. He twice reversed his field on a 34-yard kickoff return to start Miami at the 44. Kerry Rhodes dropped a potential interception that might have sealed the win for Louisville, and on fourth-and-4 at the 8 with 1:52 left, Berlin hit Darnell Jenkins for 5 yards and a first down.

Gore scored two plays later.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically from staff, ECU, Conference USA and its member schools, and from Associated Press and other reports. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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