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franklin county times

Tulane blasts past Southern Mississippi

By By Richard Dark / oEMG staff writer
Nov. 24, 2002
NEW ORLEANS A showcase of a pair of Conference USA's best career rushers resulted in keeping slim bowl hopes alive for a perennial league also-ran, and may have ended any aspirations a former C-USA powerhouse had of competing beyond next weekend.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles turned in one of their most uninspired performances in recent memory, relinquishing the coveted Victory Bell' in a 31-10 loss to the Tulane Green Wave in front of a scattered crowd of 21,832 in the Louisiana Superdome. And once again, USM's penchant for turning the ball over left them limping out of the Crescent City wondering what happened to a once-promising season.
Quarterback Mickey D'Angelo accounted for all four of the USM turnovers, fumbling twice to go with a pair of interceptions. "There's just no excuse for this," an irritated Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said. "It's everybody's fault. This is real disappointing. I thought we'd be ready to play."
If the Eagles (6-5) were still suffering a hangover from the Louisville loss, Bower wouldn't admit it. Rather, the coach said the focus needed to be on trying to figure out how to win the season finale. "All I know is we will be ready to play next week, that's for sure," he added defiantly.
The Eagles wrap up the regular season next Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium against East Carolina.
Golden Eagle quarterback Mickey D'Angelo's second interception of the afternoon helped seal USM's fate. Lynaris Elpheage stepped in front of his pass and returned the ball 25 yards to the Golden Eagle 38. That set up the third Seth Marler field goal of the day, a 38-yarder, with 51 seconds left in the third quarter that provided the Green Wave with a two-touchdown margin entering the fourth.
Conversely, Tulane junior Mewelde Moore, one of the most decorated backs in the league, couldn't be handled on the turf, slashing the USM defense for 136 yards on 32 carries. "We didn't tackle very well, but he's a real good player," Bower said. "You got to give him credit. They had a lot of cutback runs on us today. I don't know if we over pursued or what." Moore's 5-yard burst with 12:57 to go in the final frame put the finishing touches on perhaps the USM season.
Wave QB P.J. Losman threw for 11-of-19 for 165 yards and a TD.
He seemed most effective early. After Losman narrowly avoided a sack on a third-and-long from the USM 19, the Wave grabbed the 10-0 lead on Marler's 37-yard boot at the 13 minute mark of the second quarter.
The hosts, trying to send out 17 seniors on a high note, capitalized on an early USM mistake.
Just three plays after D'Angelo mishandled the shotgun snap trying to call timeout; the Green Wave (7-5) recovered the fumble and converted the game's opening touchdown, an Elpheage 16-yard reverse ramble around the left side for the 7-0 lead following the first of two PAT kicks by Marler.
Nix got USM on the board with an impressive 7-yard TD score with 9:35 to go in the first half. Surprisingly, that's all the points USM could muster. He finished with 90 yards on 19 totes.
USM hurriedly attempted to take the lead after Marler shanked a punt, giving the Golden Eagles the ball at their own 48. But, three plays later, they had to settle for three, as Curt Jones converted a 21-yard chip shot after a shot to the end zone with seven ticks left in the first half fell incomplete.
Tulane's All-American placekicker candidate also capped a Green Wave drive with his longest field goal of the season, a 51-yarder late in the second quarter.
It didn't take long for the Green Wave to grab a stranglehold on the game after halftime. Following a stalled Golden Eagle drive, Losman found wideout Nick Narcisse behind the USM defense for a dazzling 64-yard scoring strike, the Wave's longest gain from scrimmage all year, to extend the lead. A Floyd Dorsey rush was good for the 2-point conversion to give Tulane a 21-10 cushion.
Michael Boley led the Eagles on defense with 12 tackles and a sack, while Rod Davis added 10.