November 6, 2010 10:31:00 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- Southern Mississippi barely got 100 yards passing from its quarterback, but the biggest play of the game was a pass from one of its wide receivers.
Quentin Pierce took a lateral from quarterback Austin Davis and threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Johdrick Morris to break a fourth-quarter tie and lead the Golden Eagles to a 46-30 Conference USA victory against Tulane on Saturday.
"I''m glad coach called it for me so I could get a chance to throw it," Pierce said. "I just wanted to get it out of my hands because I saw (Morris) come open, and it worked."
The first touchdown pass of Pierce''s career gave Southern Miss a 37-30 lead with 12 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game.
The Golden Eagles (6-3, 3-2 Conference USA) increased their lead to 39-30 when Cordarro Law hit Green Wave quarterback Ryan Griffin, who fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a safety with 2:23 remaining.
Southern Miss completed the scoring when Alexander Walters forced and recovered a Devin Figaro fumble and ran 41 yards for a touchdown with 21 seconds remaining. The Golden Eagles scored at least 40 points for the fifth consecutive game and became bowl eligible for the 17th consecutive season.
"We expect to go to bowls at Southern Miss," coach Larry Fedora said.
Davis completed 18 of 35 passes for just 102 yards and a touchdown, but eight Southern Miss runners combined to gain 230 yards and score two touchdowns on 41 rushes.
Tulane (3-6, 1-4) outgained the Golden Eagles 402-358 and had 11 more first downs (28-17).
"If you look at the stats, we hung with them," Green Wave coach Bob Toledo said. "But we''re still missing a few pieces to the puzzle. We need more guys who can score touchdowns. We need more guys who can make plays. We didn''t make a bunch of plays tonight."
The Green Wave broke a 20-20 halftime tie on the first possession of the third quarter when Orleans Darkwa ran 6 yards for a touchdown. Southern Miss tied the score two plays later when Tracy Lampley ran 60 yards for a touchdown.
Tulane''s Cairo Santos made a 23-yard field goal, and the Golden Eagles'' Danny Hrapmann made a 34-yarder, leaving the scored tied at 30 after three quarters.
The Golden Eagles received the opening kickoff and drove to Hrapmann''s 34-yard field goal. They recovered an ensuing onside kickoff and drove to Hrapmman''s 49-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead.
Southern Miss'' Kendrick Hardy fumbled and Shakiel Smith recovered for the Green Wave at the Eagles'' 36. Two plays later, Griffin threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Banks to give Tulane a 7-6 lead.
Reggie Hunt returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards, setting up Hardy''s 1-yard touchdown run that gave Southern Miss a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
Griffin threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cody Sparks to put the Green Wave back on top, 14-13, with 5:23 left in the second quarter.
Darkwa''s 4-yard touchdown run on Tulane''s next possession gave the Green Wave a 20-13 lead with 1:11 left in the second quarter.
Banks fumbled a punt and Chico Hunter recovered for the Eagles at the Green Wave 4 with 32 seconds left in the second quarter. That set up Davis'' 2-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Massey, which tied the score at 20.