USM's Young breaks big run in win
By By Stan Caldwell / EMG Sports Writer
Dec. 1, 2002
HATTIESBURG If one play could be said to be the turning point in a game in which one team was as thoroughly dominant as Southern Miss was Saturday against East Carolina, it would be Marvin Young's 29-yard punt return midway through the first quarter.
Young dashed up the right side past the pursuit from the USM 21 yard-line to midfield, jump-starting the Golden Eagle offense with great field position.
Young's return came after a special teams mistake, when a holding penalty cost ECU a touchdown after the Pirates ran a fake field goal.
With excellent field position, USM drove to its first touchdown, and was well on its way to a 24-7 victory over the Pirates.
Young also made the catch of the day, a fingertip grab of a Micky D'Angelo pass that went for 44 yards and set up USM's second touchdown in the second quarter.
The Golden Eagles held a special ceremony before Saturday's game honoring 19 seniors who played their last game at Roberts Stadium.
Other seniors playing their last home game were tight end Patrick Barker, tackle Jeremy Bridges, defensive lineman Carlos Crusoe, tight end Bobby Garner, wide receiver LeRoy Handy, punter Mark Haulman, linebacker Joe Henley, tackle Jason Jimenez, defensive back Leroy Johnson, kicker Curt Jones, defensive lineman Rayshun Jones, linebacker Chris Langston, deep snapper James Martin, guard Buck Miciotto, tailback Derrick Nix, kicker Don Urquhart and linebacker Chris Vaughn.
Will He Stay Or Go?
A big question on the minds of all Golden Eagle fans is whether all-star middle linebacker Rod Davis will come out for the National Football League draft as a junior.
Davis has had a banner season as the most visible member of the Eagle defense. He has 111 solo tackles, 45 assists, 23 tackles for a loss of 94 yards, 10.5 sacks for 60 yards in losses, two interceptions, two pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and a fumble forced.
USM coaches really wanted to challenge their players during practice this past week, so they lined up the first-teamers on both sides of the ball and went after it.
East Carolina's 1,000-yard rusher Art Brown did not play Saturday because of a pulled muscle in his lower abdominal area.
Brown entered the game with 1,029 yards rushing. In his absence, the Pirates moved linebacker Christshawn Gilliam to tailback, and Gilliam was productive early in the game.
Gilliam ran seven times for 33 yards on ECU's first possession, but was held in check thereafter, finishing with 59 yards on 15 carries.
Junior cornerback Greg Brooks nearly had an interception in the first quarter off ECU quarterback Paul Troth, dropping a ball that he may well have taken for a touchdown.
Nevertheless, the breakup was significant, because it was the 33rd pass breakup of his career, breaking the old career mark set by Patrick Surtain, now with the Miami Dolphins.
Punters for both USM and ECU enjoyed excellent days of work in Saturday's game.
Golden Eagle kicker Mark Haulman averaged 41 yards on five kicks, including a long of 50 yards, and he dropped one down at the ECU 1 yard-line. ECU's Jared Preston averaged 40.2 yards on nine kicks, including a long of 54 yards, and he put two down inside the USM 20.
East Carolina's only touchdown came late in the fourth quarter, when cornerback Kelly Hardy picked up a fumble and dashed 82 yards.
The miscue came with USM driving inside the ECU 20. James Walley swept left, then had the ball knocked out of his hands, then he kicked it backwards into Hardy's grasp.
Wide receiver Chris Johnson had another big day for USM, catching five passes for 103 yards and one touchdown.
This was Johnson's second 100-yard receiving day, and has been called by his coaches as the Golden Eagles' most reliable receiver.