Nov. 25, 2006
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - With a potential postseason at-large bowl berth at stake, Marshall was unable to avenge last season's overtime loss as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles handed the Thundering Herd a 42-7 defeat Saturday night at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
The 35-point victory secured Southern Miss (8-4, 6-2 C-USA) a spot in the Conference USA Championship against West Division champion Houston. Marshall (5-7, 4-4 C-USA), however, suffered back-to-back losing seasons for the first since 1982-83 under Sonny Randle.
Despite the season-ending loss, Ahmad Bradshaw (Bluefield, Va./Graham) recorded his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season - the second-most regular season total in school history. Bradshaw finished with 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown, becoming the school's fifth all-time leading rusher with 2,988 yards.
His 1,523 yards is the highest 12-game rushing total and is the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.
Marshall starting quarterback Bernard Morris (Orlando, Fla./Jones) completed 4-of-9 passing for 74 yards with an interception and two fumbles before being replaced in the fourth quarter.
Southern Miss was led offensively by freshman running back Damion Fletcher, who finished with 25 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Young completed 14-of-19 passes for 135 yards with two touchdowns.
Marshall's road woes started early against the Golden Eagles, as the Herd quickly fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter.
On the game's opening play, Fletcher ran for a 26-yard gain, giving the Golden Eagles excellent field position at its own 44-yard line. Eight plays later, Southern Miss took a 7-0 lead on a two-yard touchdown pass play from Young to Conrad Chanove.
The Herd's ensuing possession ended with Southern Miss' second score of the quarter. Punting from his own end zone, Ian O'Connor's (Knoxville, Tenn./Halls) attempt was blocked by Kyle Hopton who fell on it for a 14-0 lead.
It was the third time this season that the Herd's first punt attempt of the game was blocked. All three blocks have resulted in opponent touchdowns; however, it was the first time that the block was returned for a touchdown.
Marshall responded on its second drive to cut the deficit in half, 14-7. Bradshaw touched the ball five times on the Herd's eight-play possession, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run.
Southern Miss had the opportunity to take a 10-point lead in the second quarter, but Darren McCaleb's 36-yard attempt sailed wide right. However, the Herd was unable to take advantage of the field position.
The Herd had a second chance to prosper on another Southern Miss special teams miscue. Facing fourth-and-two from the Marshall 33-yard line, the Golden Eagles faked a 50-yard field goal, but McCaleb was smothered behind the line of scrimmage by Josh Johnson (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military).
However, the Herd would turnover the ball over to the Golden Eagles on its ensuing possession. James Denley sacked Morris for a seven-yard loss and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Martavius Prince at the Marshall 34-yard line.
Four plays later, Young connected on a 23-yard touchdown strike with Shawn Nelson to extend the Southern Miss lead to 21-7 before the end of the first half.
Southern Miss put the game out of reach in the third quarter on Young's one-yard quarterback sneak, extending the Golden Eagles lead to 28-7.
The Golden Eagles added two fourth quarter touchdown runs to finish with the resulting 42-7 victory.