Southern Miss. 25, UAB 20

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Damion Fletcher ran for 163 yards on Saturday, inching his way toward a school record and helping Southern Mississippi to 25-21 win in a key conference game against UAB.

The win, coupled with East Carolina's 18-17 loss to Rice earlier in the day, opens the door for The Golden Eagles (6-4, 5-2 Conference USA) to clinch the Conference USA East Division title with a win at home against Marshall next week.

Houston has already clinched the West title and will host the league championship game.

Fletcher became just the second freshman tailback in Southern Miss history to run for 1,000 yards in a season, with 1,126.

Chris Johnson scored twice for Southern, once through the air and once on the ground.

The Blazers (3-8, 2-5) are 0-7 against the Golden Eagles.

The win also assured Southern Miss of its 13th consecutive winning season, one of only five Division IA teams in the country with that distinction.

After a scoreless first quarter, Southern Miss took control by scoring 16 points in the second quarter.

Jasper Faulk put the first Southern Miss points on the board when he picked off a Sam Hunt pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown at the 12:12 mark.

Stephen Reaves, who alternated with Southern Miss starter Jeremy Young at quarterback, then threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Chris Johnson.

The Blazers came back with three touchdowns in the fourth -- Corey White scored on a 2-yard run and Joseph Webb hit Sylvester Mencer with a 19-yard scoring pass.

Brandon Register then returned a Southern Miss fumble 67 yards for a score with five minutes to play, pulling UAB within two.

But the Golden Eagles sacked Webb in the end zone with 38 seconds left for a safety.