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Five Bowl Game Memories: 2000 GMAC Bowl

Dec. 21, 2017

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- With the Walk-On's Independence Bowl against Florida State just seven days away, SouthernMiss.com takes a look back at five of the Golden Eagles' fondest moments in postseason play. Today's focus is on the 2000 GMAC Bowl, where Southern Miss edged No. 13 TCU and Heisman Trophy finalist LaDainian Tomlinson, 28-21.

In a game that featured the top two defenses in the nation, it was the Southern Miss offense that took center stage in the end. Down 21-14 entering the fourth quarter, the Golden Eagles scored two touchdowns on the nation's top defense in the final frame, converting on quarterback Jeff Kelly's touchdown passes of 56 and 29 yards, respectively. The final score came with eight seconds left in the game, as wide receiver Kenneth Johnson grabbed a 29-yard touchdown pass to lift the Golden Eagles to the 28-21 victory over the No. 13 Horned Frogs.

Earlier in the fourth, Kelly connected with LeRoy Handy for a 56-yard scoring strike with 7:24 remaining. The win was Southern Miss' third bowl victory in four seasons and also marked the fifth-straight year that the team finished with seven or more wins in a season. The Golden Eagle defense, ranked second in the nation, held Tomlinson, the NCAA's leading rusher, to a season-low 118 yards on the ground. Handy finished as the bowl's Offensive MVP after grabbing five receptions for 84 yards and two scores. Leo Barnes, who returned an interception 50 yards for a score in the first quarter, earned Defensive MVP honors.

Fans can purchase tickets for the Dec. 27 bowl game against Florida State by visiting SouthernMissTickets.com or calling 1-800-844-TICK. Students can get admission for just $20 by calling the athletics ticket office. The office will close on Dec. 21 for the break, but more information can be found here.

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