Dec. 1, 2011
*Written by the 'Voice of the Golden Eagles' John CoxWhat an exciting time it is for our Golden Eagle football team as they head to Houston this Saturday to play in the Conference USA championship game against the Houston Cougars. What an incredible job Coach Larry Fedora and his coaching staff have done in guiding the team through the season to put themselves in a position to win the fifth Conference USA championship in school history. The leadership displayed by the 21 seniors on this team has been inspiring and what a fitting tribute it would be for those young men to walk away with the league crown this Saturday afternoon.
The game on Saturday will be played at Robertson Stadium on the Houston campus. The stadium opened in 1942. Houston played its home football games there from 1946 to 1950 before moving to Houston Stadium in 1951 and the Astrodome in 1965. The Cougars began splitting up their home games between the Astrodome and Robertson Stadium in 1994 and moved totally back to Robertson Stadium in 1998. Several renovations have been made to the stadium over the last 13 years. The 1960 American Football League (AFL) Championship game and 1962 AFL Championship game were played at Robertson Stadium by the Houston Oilers against the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Texans, respectively. On January 16, 1965, the AFL All-Star game was also held there.
Do you remember the first time that the Golden Eagles played at Robertson Stadium in Houston? It was back on November 9, 1996 and it was one of the first times that Houston had used Robertson Stadium, their on campus facility in a while. They had been playing their games in the Astrodome. The Golden Eagles entered the game 8-1 overall, 4-1 in Conference USA and ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll. The Eagles and the Cougars combined for 1,049 yards of total offense in the game and traded points throughout the game, finishing the fourth quarter tied at 49 and setting the stage for the Golden Eagles' first sudden-death overtime game. The Cougars had the ball first in overtime and scored on a 12-yard run by Antowain Smith, his sixth touchdown of the day. The Eagles needed a touchdown to tie the game and force a second overtime, but Brandon Francis caught a swing pass from quarterback Lee Roberts in the left flat, was tripped up, and fell inches short of the goal line, leaving Houston with a 56-49 win. Roberts had an outstanding game, completing 22 of 36 passes for a then-school record 398-yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Kendrick Lee caught 10 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Southern Miss finished its first season in Conference USA with a 4-1 record and would share the inaugural league championship with Houston. That would be the first of many shootouts between the Golden Eagles and the Cougars.
In "The Rock," the Golden Eagles earned the 500th win in school history when they defeated the Cougars 35-29 in overtime in a Thursday night battle. Trailing 29-21 with 9:23 to play, the Golden Eagles drove deep into Cougar territory and scored when quarterback Dustin Almond ran 18 yards for a touchdown to make the score 29-27 with 1:22 left in the game, but Almond pulled a leg muscle on the touchdown run and had to leave the game. Tailback Anthony Harris converted the two-point conversion to tie the game at 29-29. In the overtime, with Damion Carter at quarterback replacing Almond, the Golden Eagles scored first on a four-yard touchdown pass from Carter to tight end Otho Graves, but the extra point kick failed and Southern Miss led 35-29. The Golden Eagle defense though forced the Cougars into a fourth down situation, but quarterback Kevin Kolb's pass fell incomplete and the Eagles had the victory.
Last season at "The Rock," the Golden Eagles rolled to a 59-41 victory over the Cougars, as quarterback Austin Davis rushed for four touchdowns and threw for two more, as Southern Miss defeated Houston 59-41. Davis completed 23 of 30 passes for 285yards and rushed for 11 yards on 17 carries. The two offenses combined for 100 points, 1,133 yards of total offense and were 13 of 13 collectively in red-zone scoring.
The Cougars and the Golden Eagles have met only once in the Conference USA championship game and that was in 2006 at Houston. The Golden Eagles lost that contest 34-20 to the Cougars, but were limited in that game as running backs Damion Fletcher and Tory Harrison were battling injuries heading into the game and were limited in what they could contribute.
The Golden Eagles have won eight of the previous 13 meetings between the two teams. The first game of the series was back on November 9, 1957 in Jackson, where the Cougars won 27-12.
This week on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network pre-game show, which starts at 9:30 AM, our "Meet an Eagle of the Past," is James Berry (1961-1963), the "Inside Scoop" will be provided by senior associate athletic director Jeff Hammond, "Inside Southern Miss" explores the Lucky Day Scholars program, senior wide receiver William Spight is in the "Golden Eagle Close-up", our "Great Moment in Southern Miss Football" is the 1989 "Miracle of Louisville"; and of course, we will have our pre-game visit with Coach Larry Fedora.
The Golden Eagle basketball season is underway and Coach Larry Eustachy and his team are off to a 4-2 start after losing a tough double overtime game to Murray State in the championship game of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska last Saturday night. The Golden Eagles are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host New Mexico State at 1 p.m. at Green Coliseum. Coming up in the month of December for the Golden Eagles are home games with Louisiana Tech (Dec. 10), Ole Miss (Dec. 17), South Florida (Dec. 22), Belhaven (Dec. 27) and Alcorn State (Dec. 29). In December, they will play on the road at South Alabama (Dec. 7), Arizona State (Dec. 19) and McNeese state (Dec. 31). All Golden Eagle basketball games can be heard on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network beginning 30 minutes before tip-off. The pre-game show features our exclusive pre-game visit with head coach Larry Eustachy, plus our "Inside Scoop" feature that focuses on a Golden Eagle player or coach.
The Lady Eagles under Coach Joye lee McNelis are off to a 2-4 on the year and return to action on Saturday at 12 noon at Arkansas-Little Rock. Home games in December include Louisiana-Monroe (Dec. 10), South Alabama (Dec. 18) and Jackson State (Dec. 21). The Lady Eagles will play on the road in December at Mississippi State (Dec. 16), and in a tournament at the University of Montana (Dec. 29-30). All Lady Eagle games are broadcast on WXHB-FM in Laurel/Hattiesburg and through all-access on SouthernMiss.com. Broadcasts start 30 minutes before tip-off with Josh West handling the play-by-play.
Have a great weekend, "SOUTHERN MISS TO THE TOP".