Middle Tennessee beats Southern Miss 42-32
By Mary Foster
December 21, 2009
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Dwight Dasher got the best of Southern Mississippi -- and topped Vince Young, too.
Dasher ran for 201 yards -- the most by a quarterback in a bowl game -- and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to lead Middle Tennessee to a 42-32 victory over Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl on Sunday night.
Dasher completed 15 of 25 passes for 162 yards and ran 26 times. He finished the season with 1,175 yards rushing. He broke the quarterback bowl rushing record of 200 yards set by Texas' Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl against Southern California.
"Obviously, it was difficult stopping him," Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. "We knew going in that he was a heck of a player, and he showed that tonight. We sent him out a great player. He single handedly did it against us."
Middle Tennessee (10-3), playing in the second bowl game in school history, concluded its best season since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1999 with a seven-game winning streak and its first bowl victory.
"I've never been part of a team that plays harder than we do," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. "Other teams can't match our intensity, enthusiasm and toughness and that was evident today. We fell behind 14-0 but we never quit."
Southern Miss (7-6) was playing in its eighth straight bowl game and 12th in the last 13 seasons. The Golden Eagles had won their three previous New Orleans Bowls, including an overtime win against Troy last season.
Southern Miss quarterback Martevious Young completed 18 of 34 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions.
Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher ran for 78 yards. He finished the season with 1,015 to become the ninth player in major college football to reach 1,000 in all four seasons.
He did it despite a hamstring injury that caused him to sit out one game this season.
With 5,302 yards rushing overall, Fletcher passed Herschel Walker (5,259) and LaDainian Tomlinson (5,263) for eighth on the NCAA's career list.
Southern Miss started strong, scoring on their first possession as Tory Harrison rushed for a 2-yard touchdown. On their second possession, the Golden Eagles stretched the lead to 14-0 on a 24-yard reception by DeAndre Brown.
The Blue Raiders pulled even in the second quarter on an 11-yard reception by Garrett Anders, and -- after Alex Suber intercepted Young's pass on the Southern Miss 12 -- a 9-yard TD catch by Shane Blissard.
Southern Miss held a 17-14 edge at halftime thanks to Daniel Hrapmann's 20-yard field goal as time expired.
Dasher opened the third quarter with a 35-yard touchdown run. When Dasher left briefly with an ankle injury, Brent Burnette capped 76-yard scoring drive with a 23-yard TD pass to Chris McClover.
Hrapmann hit a 38-yard field goal to cut the Blue Raiders lead to eight at 28-20 at the end of three quarters.
Southern Miss had a chance to tie it early in the fourth making it 28-26 on DeAndre's 7 yard TD reception, but the 2-point conversion failed.
Benjamin Cunningham and Dasher ran for touchdowns to put it out of reach for Middle Tennessee.
USM added a final score with 27 seconds left the draw within 10.