CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Austin Davis threw three touchdown passes and Southern Mississippi held on for a 30-24 victory against Virginia on Saturday.
Davis' biggest completion came with less than 3 minutes to play -- a swing pass that Tracy Lampley took 41 yards down the left sideline to convert a third-and-23 from the Golden Eagles' 41 yard-line.
Virginia (2-2) had closed to within a field goal on David Watford's 1-yard TD pass to Jeremiah Mathis and his 2-point conversion pass to Kris Burd with 5:18 left, but Lampley's huge catch-and-run led to a 27-yard Danny Hrapmann field goal with 1:31 left,
After picking up one first down on its ensuing possession, Virginia gave up the ball on downs.
Southern Miss (3-1) beat the Cavaliers for the second straight time and beat a BCS-level school on the road for the first time in five tries.
Just like when the teams met in Hattiesburg, Miss., in 2009, and the Golden Eagles rallied from a 27-10 halftime deficit to win, this one was a heartbreaker for the Cavaliers.
Playing from behind most of the game, they seemed poised to make a dramatic rally when Watford drove them 76 yards for the score with 5:18 to play. But then Davis made all the key plays, hitting Kelvin Bolden for 13 yards on third-and-9 from his 41, and Lampley for the big gainer from the same spot after a personal foul negated a big gain and moved the ball back.
After the Golden Eagles eventually settled for their final field goal, Watford scrambled 15 yards for one Virginia first down, but he missed on third- and fourth-down passes to end it.
Davis finished 27 for 41 for 313 yards with no interceptions. He threw touchdown passes of 32 and 3 yards to Bolden and a 20-yarder to Ryan Balentine.
The Golden Eagles intercepted Michael Rocco three times, and while the turnovers led to only one field goal for the visitors, they kept Virginia's defense on the field.
So did the Golden Eagles, at the most unlikely of times.
On fourth-and-15 from their 8 in the second quarter, trailing 13-7, Hrapmann, the punter, rolled right in the end zone as if he was going to do a rugby kick, saw green and took off. He gained 31 yards and a first down, keeping alive a 14-play, 87-yard drive that featured two third-down conversions and a short pass that Balentine took 20 yards for a touchdown.
An exchange of punts found the Cavaliers starting at their own 1, and coach Mike London sent Watford in at quarterback. Three plays netted 2 yards, and Jimmy Howell's punt set the Golden Eagles up at the Virginia 35. A 23-yard connection from Davis to Lampley highlighted the 8-play drive, and Davis found Bolden with no one near him on third-and-goal from the 3 for the TD.
The Cavaliers scored on consecutive drives to go ahead 13-7. Rocco scored the first touchdown on a 6-yard keeper, and after the defense held, he led the team on a 69-yard drive in six plays. Perry Jones had a 20-yard run in the drive, a 15-yard personal foul helped too, and redshirt freshman Kevin Parks scored from the 9, running over defenders near the goal line.