The Southern Miss Golden Eagles had one field goal blocked and missed three others and while it was a sour night for kicking specialist Brant Hanna, it was a big night for quarterback Jeff Kelly and wide receiver LeRoy Handy helping lead Coach Jeff Bower's Golden E agles(8-4) past 13th ranked TCU(10-2) 28-21 in the Mobile Alabama Bowl spoiling the debut of Horned Frogs new head coach Gary Patterson.
Southern Miss pulled out the win with two fourth quarter touchdowns, a 56-yard strike to LeRoy Handy with 7:36 left in the game and a thrilling 29-yard connection hauled in by freshman wide receiver Kenneth Johnson with 8 ticks left on the clock.
TCU grabbed a 7-nothing lead in the first quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Casey Printer to fullback George Layne. The Golden Eagles came right back, showing why they had the nation's second ranked defense, defensive back Leo Barnes picked off Printer and 50-yards later Southern Miss tied the game at 7. That was the 6th interception by Barnes on the season.
The Golden Eagles led 14-7 in the third quarter when Jeff Kelly hit LeRoy Handy with the first of his two touchdown receptions, this one from 9 yards out. All-America running back LaDainian Tomlinson would crack the Golden Eagles goal line twice in the 3rd quarter.. covering 9 and 33 yards as the Horned Frogs led 21-14 heading into the 4th quarter.
Southern Miss had numerous opportunities moving the ball well against the nation's top ranked defense, but each time missed field goals by Brant Hanna kept the Golden Eagles at bay. Jeff Kelly completed 11 of 23 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Handy snagged 5 passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
The Golden Eagles defense gave up only 265 yards of offense holding Tomlinson to 118 yards on 28 carries. The Horned Frogs defense yielded 317 yards of offense, 158 on the ground and 159 through the air.
The big question following the upset win by Southern Miss... how interested is the University of Georgia in Southern Miss Head Coach Jeff Bower? Reports out of Athens say Coach Bower will be interviewed by Bulldogs Athletic Director Vince Dooley on Thursday.