Tulane 14

(4-7, 2-4 away)

Southern Miss 28

(7-3, 4-1 home)

Coverage: GamePlan

3:00 PM ET, November 15, 2003

M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS

1 2 3 4 T
TULN 0 7 0 714
USM 17 0 0 1128

Southern Miss 28, Tulane 14

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Southern Mississippi resorted to trickery to keep J.P. Losman from getting one last shot at rallying Tulane.

Dustin Almond put the game away with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Alan Whitney off a faked field goal with less than two minutes left and Southern Miss defeated Tulane 28-14 on Saturday.

"We were working on it all week and we knew we had to complete the pass or turn it over to them on downs. And we know they have a really great offense and we didn't want to let them back on the field," said Anthony Harris, who ran for 111 yards and was the short receiver on the trick play. "Everything worked out for the best. We got the big play and scored."

The Golden Eagles (7-3, 6-0) have won four straight and are a half-game behind first-place TCU in Conference USA.

The unbeaten tenth-ranked Horned Frogs visit Hattiesburg on Thursday night for a game with BCS ramifications that will decide the C-USA title.

"This is what you play for, what you practice for. This is why you do everything: To win a conference championship," said Antwon Courington, who had three catches for 87 yards

Losman was 21-for-36 for 244 yards and two touchdowns for Tulane (4-7, 2-5), which has lost six of seven.

The Golden Eagles looked like they would rout the Green Wave early, jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter.

But Southern Miss couldn't put Tulane away, and when Losman hit Chris Bush with a 17-yard touchdown, the score was 20-14 with 7:26 left.

The Golden Eagles put together the long, time consuming drive they needed, but stalled at the Tulane 34 with about a minute and a half left -- more than enough time for the dynamic Losman to mount a last-minute comeback.

Southern Miss first lined up its offense and tried to pull the Green Wave offside on a fourth-and-4. That didn't work and the Golden Eagles called a timeout to talk it over.

"I was expecting them to punt the ball and then us have to drive 90 yards down the field to score," said Losman, who is considered a big-time NFL prospect.

Golden Eagles coach Jeff Bower, who has been known to pull a fast one in crucial situations, didn't like that scenario and decided it was time to take a chance.

"I felt good about the call and felt the timing was right," Bower said.

Southern Miss kicker Darren McCaleb lined up for a 51-yard field goal with Almond holding as usual.

"We told them before they went out there, 'Watch the fake.' We didn't think they'd kick it, not in that situation," Tulane coach Chris Scelfo said.

Almond took the snap, rolled right and threw long to a wide-open Whitney, who rumbled in for a touchdown with 1:27 left.

"When I saw him catch it a big rush came to my heart," said the 170-pound McCaleb, who threw a block to help protect Almond.

For Whitney, a freshman reserve tight end, it was his second catch of the season and first career touchdown.

The 2-point conversion pass from Almond to Marvin Young made it 28-14.

Almond finished 11-for-16 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Harris ran 33 times and scored a touchdown. He has gone over 100 yards in three of four games since moving from fullback to tailback.

The Golden Eagles scored on their first three possessions in "The Battle for the Bell."

Almond was on target early, hitting Courington deep down the middle for 60 yards on his first pass.

He hooked up with Courington again for 22 yards and two plays later Harris ran in from 3 yards out to make it 7-0.

Almond was 5-for-7 in the first quarter for 129 yards and a 33-yard touchdown to DaRon Lawrence. The Southern Miss offense went cold after that.

"Sometimes when you think it's going to be easy, you lose some intensity," Bower said.

Losman drew the Green Wave to 17-7 when he hit Roydell Williams for a 3-yard TD with 15 seconds left in the first half.

Williams had eight catches for 93 yards.