Nov. 8, 2005
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -
Behind junior quarterback Jimmy Skinner (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe), the Marshall Thundering Herd mounted another dramatic second-half comeback, but Darren McCaleb's 34-yard field goal in overtime lifted Southern Miss to a 27-24 win over the Herd Tuesday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Marshall (4-5, 3-3 C-USA) lost for the first time in overtime in school history (5-1), while Southern Miss (5-3, 4-1 C-USA) won its third consecutive Conference USA game.
Sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw (Bluefield, Va./Graham) led all rushers with a career-high 150 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown. Hiram Moore (Huntington, W.Va./Huntington) led all receivers with 122 yards on eight catches and a touchdown.
Skinner, who came in for an injured Bernie Morris (Orlando, Fla./Jones), was 11-of-16 for 147 yards and a touchdown. Morris finished the game 7-of-19 for 71 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Southern Miss' Dustin Almond threw for a game-high 224 yards on 17-of-28 with a touchdown and an interception.
Southern Miss, Conference USA's second-highest scoring offense, took the game's opening drive 80 yards on 15 plays in 7:32 to take an early 7-0 on the Herd.
With first-and-goal from the Herd's three-yard line, the Golden Eagles gave the ball to Larry Thomas, who pounded it into the end zone for the game's opening score.
On the ensuing Herd possession, Morris ran an option around left side for a 10-yard gain and a first down. However, Southern Miss' Brandon Sumrall intercepted Morris' pass on the next play at the Herd 45-yard line.
Seven plays and 2:33 later, Lou Groza Award semifinalist and Southern Miss kicker Darren McCaleb hit from 40 yards out to extend the Southern Miss lead to 10-0 in the first quarter.
Following USM's second score of the opening quarter, the Herd appeared to have mounted its first successful drive of the game. But, with 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Ian O'Connor's
(Knoxville, Tenn./Halls) 47-yard field goal attempt was blocked by James Denley, keeping the Southern Miss lead at 10-0.
Dennis Thornton (Spotsylvania, Va./Spotsylvania) forced and recovered an Anthony Perine fumble at the USM 37-yard line with 9:20 remaining the second quarter.
That turnover set up a five-play, 37-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Morris to Moore. The score cut Southern Miss' lead to three, 10-7, with 7:23 remaining in the first half.
With 5:21 left in the opening half, Southern Miss squandered an opportunity to extend its lead after McCaleb missed a 40-yard attempt that was short.
However, Southern Miss didn't miss a second opportunity as Almond connected with Pedi Causey on a 58-yard touchdown strike, extending the USM lead back to double digits, 17-7, with 1:26 left in the half. It was Causey's first touchdown of his career and Almond's 16th of the season.
Southern Miss more than doubled the Herd's offensive production in the first half, as the Golden Eagles out-gained Marshall 248-122. It was the most yards of total offense allowed by Marshall in the first half this season. Thomas posted 75 rushing yards on 16 carries with a touchdown, while Morris led the Herd with 29 yards on the ground.
Almond led all passers with 165 yards on 12-of-17 passing, including the 58-yard touchdown strike to Causey. Morris was 7-of-17 for 71 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
On Southern Miss' opening drive of the second half, the Herd forced a second Golden Eagle turnover. Senior free safety Chris Royal (Herndon, Va./South Lakes) intercepted an Almond pass and returned it to midfield at the 12:27 mark of the third quarter.
However, Marshall was unable to create a productive drive. During the drive, Skinner replaced Morris after he was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury at the 9:47 mark of the third quarter.
With 4:29 left in the third quarter, the Herd cut the Golden Eagles' lead to 17-10, after true freshman David DeFatta (Franklin, Tenn./Franklin) connected on a 22-yard kick - the first of his career.
Southern Miss responded with a 76-yard, eight-play touchdown scoring drive, capped off by Cole Mason's two-yard run. Mason's touchdown was his first of the season and extended the Southern Miss lead to 24-10.
Skinner's 10-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Lauzon (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) with 13:14 remaining in regulation cut the Southern Miss lead back seven, 24-17. The play originally was ruled incomplete but was overruled after the officials conferred with the replay booth. It was only the fifth play in Conference USA this season to be overturned.
After a stalled USM drive, Royal's 33-yard punt return gave Marshall outstanding field position at the USM 30-yard line. Six plays later, Bradshaw scored the equalizer on a one-yard sweep around the left side, tying the game 24-24 with 8:32 left in regulation.
With the score tied 24-24 with eight seconds remaining in regulation, Jasper Faulk blocked DeFatta's 24-yard field goal as time expired.
In overtime, DeFatta's 27-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright. McCaleb didn't miss as he connected on the game-winning 34-yard field goal.