Golden Eagles down Memphis
By By Stan Caldwell / EMG Sports Writer
Sept. 13, 2002
HATTIESBURG Jeff Bower suspected he had a special team this year, but he may not have known just how special it was going to be.
Bower's University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles played one of their best games in memory Saturday night, whipping the University of Memphis 33-14 before an audience of 28,419 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in the Conference USA opener for both teams.
Tucker, a former Southeast Lauderdale star, led an overwhelming offensive surge that powered the Golden Eagles to 524 yards of offense, including 356 yards rushing, as USM improved to 3-0 overall. Memphis dropped to 1-2.
USM broke open a tight game with a 16-point surge late in the second quarter, but really the Golden Eagles were dominant almost from the beginning.
The Eagles assumed authority on their second possession of the game. Backed up at their own 4-yard line, USM methodically marched straight down the field in 13 plays to score a touchdown.
Senior tailback Derrick Nix had runs of 15 and 20 yards, and sophomore quarterback Micky D'Angelo completed passes of 11 yards to tight end Bobby Garner for 11 yards, to LeRoy Handy for 12 and Handy again for 10 yards that set the Eagles up at the Memphis 8. Nix then carried for 6 yards and 2 yards for the score with 2:28 remaining in the first quarter.
USM added a 30-yard field goal by Curt Jones with 9:50 to play in the first half to take a 10-0 lead. Later in the period, Jones missed a 45-yard attempt that hit the left upright, and the Tigers immediately responded.
Quarterback Danny Wimprine found Antoine Harden open across the middle, and Harden sprinted all the way for a 72-yard scoring play. Suddenly, with 5:08 to play before halftime, it looked like it would be the kind of close game everyone expected.
On the second play after the kickoff, Nix swept right end behind devastating blocking and outran the pursuit for a 70-yard scoring run and a 17-7 lead.
Nix finished the night with 196 yards on 21 carries, 175 in the first half alone, while redshirt freshman Anthony Harris added 121 yards on 27 carries. It was the first time USM had two backs surpass the 100-yard mark since Nix and Dawayne Woods did it against Tulane in 1999.
When the Tigers got the ball at their own 20, they immediately went backward. Darron White was stuffed for a loss of a yard, then Memphis was flagged for motion. On second-and-16, Wimprine was sacked by Terrell Paul and Rod Davis for an 11-yard loss, and on the next play, the Tigers snapped the ball over Wimprine's head for a safety and a 19-7 USM lead.
After an exchange of punts, USM got the ball at their own 28 with 54 seconds remaining in the half. D'Angelo scrambled 16 yards and 15 more were added for a late hit against Memphis. Three plays later, the Eagles were at the Memphis 24 with 14 seconds left.
D'Angelo fired a pass to Marvin Young, who made a fingertip grab just inside the pylon for a touchdown, sending USM into the locker room with a commanding 26-7 lead. It was almost a carbon copy of the play the two ran in the same situation two weeks ago against Jackson State.
USM added a touchdown on its first possession of the second half, driving 57 yards in eight plays, with Harris getting the score from 4 yards out.
Memphis added a touchdown on the next series, going 75 yards in 15 plays, with freshman quarterback Maurice Avery scoring on a 2-yard run.
The Tigers made some noise in the fourth quarter, but one drive was thwarted by an interception by Alex Ray, and Etric Pruitt recovered a fumble at the USM 2 with 9:36 to play to end whatever doubt there was about the outcome.
D'Angelo had another efficient effort, completing 17 of 25 passes for 168 yards. DeAngelo Williams led Memphis with 105 yards rushing on 11 carries, but most of that came on a 55-yard run early in the fourth quarter.