New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss 30, Troy 27|USM wins bowl game with rally, blocked field goal in overtime

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2008

NEW ORLEANS — Michael McGee and Britt Barefoot are going to be the toast of Hattiesburg.

Barefoot nailed a 39-yard field goal and McGee blocked a  28-yard attempt in overtime to give Southern Miss a come-from-behind, 30-27 victory over Troy in the New Orleans Bowl on Sunday.

Southern Miss erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.

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“I can’t be any more proud of the seniors on this team,” Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. “They were the glue that held us together when we were 2-6 and everybody had given up on us. I can’t be any more proud of this team because they were the only ones out there who believed we could get it done.”

The game was won with a kicker who only hit half of his attempts during the season. Barefoot nailed a 46-yarder to tie the contest at 27-27 with 2:50 remaining in the fourth and then the go-ahead try to make him 3-for-3 in the contest.

Southern Miss (7-6) led only once during the game, after Barefoot’s field goal in overtime. McGee then saved the day with his block on Troy’s possession.

“I was trying my best to get there and by the time I got 3 yards away from the ball, I didn’t see nobody trying to block down on me, so I just dove and gave it my all,” McGee said.

In the fourth quarter, the USM defense came up huge on fourth down with Troy hanging on to a 27-17 lead. Linebacker Tokumbo Abanikanda hit DuJuan Harris for a loss to give the ball back to the offense at the USM 39. Redshirt freshman Austin Davis hit Jonathan Massey for a 35-yard TD pass to cut it to 27-24 with 7:20 left.

“I knew that a stop would put our offense in good position to score,” Akanikanda said. “I knew if we got the stop, our offense would score. We had faith in our offense.”

The game was a microcosm of USM’s season — an awful start punctuated by a terrific finish.

Davis looked like a freshman quarterback on USM’s third play from scrimmage, as his option pitch to Damion Fletcher was fumbled into the hands of cornerback Jorrick Calvin, who returned it 17 yards for a Troy touchdown.

Southern Miss wasted little time on its next possession. Fedora dug into his bag of tricks with a flea flicker that Davis executed brilliantly, hitting a wide-open Gerald Baptiste in stride for a 64-yard TD reception to knot the score at 7-7.

Southern Miss had a shot to take command after the defense forced a three-and-out.

But star freshman wideout DeAndre Brown went down with a horrifically broken leg in the end zone on an incompletion and the drive ran out of gas, as Davis was sacked on fourth-and-8.

Troy used the short and intermediate passing game to work down the field on its next drive, capped by Levi Brown’s 4-yard TD pass to Kennard Burton.

Southern Miss replied quickly. Running back Damion Fletcher leaped over the pylon to cap a nine-play, 69-yard drive with an 8-yard scamper to tie the game at 14.

Troy took command on Sam Glusman’s 20-yard field goal to make it 17-14 and USM had one more shot with three minutes left in the half. An offensive pass interference penalty wiped out a big gain on a reverse pass by Baptiste and the Golden Eagles were forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Barefoot.

The scoring slowed down in the second half. Glusman hit a 38-yard field goal to put Troy ahead 20-17 late in the third. A few minutes later, Levi Brown took a QB keeper in from six yards out to make it 27-17.

Davis finished the game 20-of-34 for 276 yards and two TDs. Fletcher finished with 78 yards on 14 carries and one score.


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