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News Nuggets, 12.15.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Bowl season kicks off with Southern Miss victory


12.14.04: Preview: USM, North Texas kick off bowl season ... Former ECU assistants McFarland, Brindise land jobs ... McLendon to bolt Wolfpack for NFL draft ... More...
12.13.04: Musical chairs at full tilt as coaches change jobs ... List of Division I-A coaching changes ... Heisman Trophy chronology 1935-2004 ... More...
12.12.04: Title game of the Heismans set ... All-time Heisman winners list ... Blue- Gray Classic scratched again ... More...
12.11.04: Job security for SMU coach comes with lofty mandate ... Panel pushing to tie bowl bids to grad rates ... More...
12.10.04: Gamecocks' ol' man "Pops" still in the limelight ... Lou Groza Award winners ... Ray Guy Award winners ... More...
12.09.04: East Carolina releases 2005 baseball schedule ... BCA urges athletes, coaches to shun Gamecocks ... More...
12.08.04: All-Conference USA and C-USA All-Freshman teams ... Petrino waves off suitors to stay at Louisville ... More...
12.07.04: Syracuse chancellor decides to stick with Pasqualoni ... Zook selected to rejuvenate struggling Illini ... More...
12.06.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, bowl lineup & TV ... BCS rankings, bowl pairings ''' AP football poll ... More...
12.05.04: FLwed BCS produces another messy title picture ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...

NEW ORLEANS — Michael Boley was supposed to blitz, but pulled up in a timely moment of recognition, poised to jump for the screen pass he suspected was coming his way.

``They ran the same play earlier in the game ... and threw it right by me,'' the Southern Mississippi linebacker recalled. ``I just kind of stopped, got in the throwing lane and luckily he threw it to me.''

Boley stretched for a two-handed grab and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, breaking open what would wind up a 31-10 Southern Miss victory over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl on Tuesday night.

Boley, named MVP of the first bowl of the postseason, made eight tackles, including two sacks.

Dustin Almond threw for 247 yards. He had a touchdown pass and ran for another score in the opening quarter, giving Southern Miss an early lead it never relinquished in its first bowl victory in four years.

Southern Miss running back Anthony Harris had 104 yards on 14 carries, and USM finished with a 403-212 advantage in total yardage.

North Texas' season had been defined by overcoming adversity. Quarterback Andrew Smith died in a car accident just before training camp, starting running back Patrick Cobbs injured his knee in the second game of the season and never returned, and the Mean Green lost their first four games before winning seven straight to earn their fourth straight trip to the New Orleans Bowl.

But Southern Miss (7-5), which narrowly lost to No. 4 California earlier this month, outplayed North Texas throughout.

North Texas, the four-time Sun Belt Conference champion, dropped to 1-3 in the New Orleans Bowl.

Tailback Jamario Thomas, who missed North Texas' final regular-season game with a sore hamstring, finished with 92 yards on 30 carries. His season total of 1,801 fell 62 yards short of former Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne's freshman record of 1,863 yards.

USM sacked North Texas quarterback Scott Hall six times and once forced him to rush a third-and-goal throw that sailed over the outstretched arms of a wide-open Beau Davidson in the end zone.

``The biggest thing they did defensively was sending rovers off the outside edges, which gave us problems in the running and passing games,'' North Texas coach Darrell Dickey said. ``We didn't play our best football. We couldn't run like we're accustomed to.''

Hall was held to just 57 yards passing through three quarters. He finished 15-of-30 for 134 yards and two interceptions.

``They brought it today,'' Hall said. ``Guys were coming off the edge all night. They took away our play-action game.''

Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said his defense seemed energized by a game plan that required it to get in the backfield quickly or risk being burned by the pass.

``There was a couple times they had a shot to maybe get a couple big plays. The key was getting pressure on the quarterback and make him throw quick,'' Bower said. ``I think sometimes when you do that you get a little more effort. When you blitz and go fast you maybe pick up the tempo a little bit.''

Through the first three quarters, North Texas remained in the game with crucial third-down tackles in its own territory, forcing Southern Miss to settle for four field-goal attempts.

USM field goal kicker Darren McCaleb, who was 15-for-15 this season, was wide with three attempts, allowing the Mean Green to stay within two touchdowns heading into the final quarter.

Then Boley, whose first-half sack led to a failed 50-yard North Texas field-goal attempt, scored on his interception to give Southern Miss a 24-3 lead with 12:52 remaining.

Almond passed for 112 yards in the first quarter, completing a pair of long passes on consecutive scoring drives. His 37-yarder down the left sideline to Otho Graves, who broke a tackle inside the 10-yard line, put Southern Miss ahead 7-0.

On the Golden Eagles' next drive, Almond threw a 47-yard pass over the middle to Tavarrez Williams, who was tackled at the North Texas 4. Almond scored on a 1-yard keeper three plays later.

McCaleb's 45-yard field goal gave the Golden Eagles a 17-3 halftime lead.

Marshall linebacker suspended for bowl game

HUNTINGTON, WV — Marshall linebacker Dionte Wilson has been suspended for the Fort Worth Bowl for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Wilson, a senior, ranked fourth on the team in tackles this season.

Marshall coach Bob Pruett said sophomore Matt Couch will replace Wilson when the Thundering Herd (6-5) plays Cincinnati (6-5) on Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Couch has missed practice time lately with a sore shoulder.

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


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:07 PM


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