Almost hand-in-hand with the rumors that Tulane, which according to the rumors is supposed to be …
USM Dunks Green Wave, 26-7
USM quarterback Dustin Almond completed 18-of-30 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown for the Golden Eagles, whose record goes to 6-5, and 5-3 in C-USA. Tulane falls to 2-9, 1-7 in C-USA.
With the win the Golden Eagles are now bowl eligible. Shawn Nelson was Almond's main target, with five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The loss was the eighth in a row for the Green Wave.
Sophomore running back Matt Forte led the way for Tulane with 137 rushing yards on 27 carries. Lester Ricard got most of the snaps at quarterback and was was ineffective for the Green Wave, finishing 7-of-20 with 109 yards passing, while throwing two interceptions. Ricard was responsible for get Tulane's only touchdown on the score board, when he found junior Damarcus Davis for a touchdown from the USM 23 with 3:17 remaining in the third quarter.
Ricard relieved starter Scott Elliott early, after Elliott was injured. Scooter finished 3-of-6 for 18 yards but a leg injury which prevented him from returning to the field.
Preston Brown led Tulane receivers with 4 catches for 80 yards.
Senior linebacker Anthony Cannon led Tulane defenders with 11 tackles.
USM opened the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run by Cole Mason with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. That score capped a 10-play drive which began at the Tulane 35-yard line after Tulane punter Barrett Pepper mishandled a snap while back in punt formation.
USM kicker Darren McCaleb nailed three field goals in the second quarter, as USM took a 16-0 lead into the break. Altogether, McCaleb kicked four field goals on the afternoon.
McCaleb's first field goal, a 33-yarder came with 8:35 to play in the second quarter.
McCaleb's second field goal came after USM defender John Eubanks intercepted a Lester Ricard pass, giving the Eagles possession of the ball at the Tulane 48-yard line. From there, McCaleb added a 41-yard field goal, giving Southern Miss a 13-0 advantage with 3:35 to play.
McCaleb's third second-quarter field goal came from 41 yards as time expired in the half.
In the second half, Almond hit receiver Nelson for a 63-yard touchdown to extend the Golden Eagle lead 23-0.
Tulane finally got on the board late in the third quarter, when Ricard connected with Damarcus Davis from 23 yards out. Davis' touchdown was set up when Tulane successfuly completed it's third fake punt of the season, with Barrett Pepper hitting Anthony Cannon with a 26-yard pass on fourth down. It was Cannon's first career reception and Pepper's first career pass attempt.
McCaleb's fourth field goal of the day, a 34-yarder midway through the fourth quarter put the Eagles ahead 26-7, and closed out the game's scoring.
The final gun Saturday was the end of a long and winding road for the Tulane football team this season in the wake of Katrina.
Tulane's athlete's had been enrolled at Louisiana Tech University during the fall quarter and that's where the football team had been based, but with the academic quarter completed and the football season over, members of the Tulane football team, were released to return home after the USM game. Most players are expected to go straight home from Hattiesburg rather than return to the Tech campus in Ruston.
All Tulane student athlete's are expected to be at a meeting at Tulane on Dec. 7-8, where details of impending budget cuts in the athletic department will be spelled out. It's believed that Tulane may temporarily suspend competition in several non-revenue generating sports, and, while remaining in Division 1A, accept a restricted membership status from the NCAA until the department is able to recover financially from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
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