HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Freshman Damion Fletcher rushed for
177 yards and three touchdowns Saturday as Southern Miss upset
North Carolina State 37-17.
Fletcher rushed for 53 yards in the first quarter alone and
finished with the third-best rushing performance by a freshman in
team history as the Golden Eagles picked up a rare home victory
against a team from a Bowl Championship Series conference.
The last came in 2002 when Southern Miss knocked off Illinois of
the Big Ten -- one of just five teams from a BCS leagues to travel
to Hattiesburg since 2000.
The Wolfpack (1-2) has now lost two consecutive games to teams
from minor conferences -- Akron of the Mid-American Conference last
week and Southern Miss of Conference USA. Its sole win came against
Division I-AA Appalachian State.
N.C. State failed to force a Southern Miss punt.
Fletcher rushed for a 7-yard touchdown in the first quarter to
put the Eagles (2-1) up 10-0, then sealed the win with a pair of
second-half touchdowns. Kicker Darren McCaleb added three field
While Fletcher was running all over N.C. State, Southern Miss
was shutting down Andre Brown. The tailback rushed for 248 yards
against the Golden Eagles as the Wolfpack came from behind for a
20-17 win in Raleigh last year.
But he was held to 48 yards and an average of 3.7 per carry in
Hattiesburg. Southern Miss also made it tough for quarterback
Marcus Stone, picking off three of his passes, including one in the
The Wolfpack was able to score in the fourth quarter again
Saturday, but by the time the offense started moving the game was
well out of reach.
Southern Miss held N.C. State to 106 total yards in the first
half and 274 in the game. The Eagles were out of reach at 37-10 as
the fourth quarter started.
The Wolfpack also hurt itself with crucial penalties in the
second half, including unsportsmanlike conduct, a late hit and
Fletcher and the Golden Eagles were able to overcome a bad
penalty of their own after the freshman was called for celebrating
his first-quarter touchdown.
N.C. State ended up with the ball at the Southern Miss 49 and
three plays later cut the score to 10-7 when Stone hit Donald
Bowens with a 46-yard touchdown with 9:37 left in the half. The two
teams exchanged field goals and Southern Miss led 13-10 at
Southern Miss began to pull away after the first kickoff of the
second half. Fletcher ripped off a 24-yard run to start the third
quarter and then quarterback Jeremy Young hit receiver Damion
Carter on a 40-yard fly route after the Wolfpack defender tripped
on the play.
Fletcher ran for 13 yards to the 1-foot line and put the Eagles
up 20-10 on the next play with 13:21 remaining.
A slip also benefited the Eagles on the Wolfpack's first play of
the next series. Bowens slipped while running a deep crossing
pattern and Jasper Faulk took an easy interception and returned it
40 yards to the N.C. State 18. McCaleb hit a 32-yard field goal for
a 23-10 lead.
The teams exchanged interceptions before Young scored from
1-yard out for a 30-10 lead with 1:32 remaining in the third
quarter. Each team added a score in the fourth.