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USM-UAB follow tradition

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
September 6, 2003
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Alabama at Birmingham just have to keep the score close.
The two Conference USA programs have met four times, since the Blazers of UAB moved up to Division I competition, with the Eagles winning all four contests including Thursdays 17-12 victory.
But USM has never beaten UAB by more than seven points in any of the two teams meetings.
The Eagles hold wins of 33-30 (2OT), 3-0 and 20-13 entering their latest meeting with the Blazers.
Trying to stop Hackney
UAB quarterback Darrell Hackney proved to be a difficult player to hold onto in the Blazers' loss to USM.
The sophomore from Atlanta passed for 262 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles, and he picked up two yards rushing.
Hackney often found ways to complete passes and make plays while USM defenders where in hot pursuit or holding onto him.
Anxious ending
USM kicker Darren McCaleb may have made his first field goal attempt as a Golden Eagle against UAB, but head coach Jeff Bower didnt go to the true freshmen with 68 seconds left in the game.
With the ball on the Blazers 29-yard line, McCaleb, who connected on a 20-yard attempt in the third quarter, stayed on the bench as the offense went out to attempt to convert a fourth-and-four play.
But the Eagles play clock expired before the team could run a play forcing them to punt the ball from the Blazers' 34.
goal. Weve relied on our defense before, and they stepped up and made a big play."
USM forced and recovered a fumble on UABs first play after the punt.
Third down blues
USM continued to struggle on third-and-short at the start of its contest against UAB.
The Eagles failed to convert third-down plays of three and two yards in the opening quarter.
USM had a pass dropped on its first third-and-short attempt of the game, and on third-and-two quarterback Micky D'Angelo's pass was deflected at the line.
But the Eagles finally hit their stride, after failing to convert eight straight third downs dating back to the season opener, early in the second quarter.
D'Angelo hooked up with split end Daron Lawerence for a 12-yard gain on third-and-three from USMs 40.
The Eagles went on to score their first touchdown of the game four plays after the conversion, highlighted by a 42-yard reception by wide receiver Marvin Young that brought USM to UAB's 2-yard line.
Filler up
UAB drew its largest crowd in program history in the squad's home opener.
The estimated crowd at Legion Field was announced at 42,000. The programs previous record crowd was 31,897 set on Aug. 24, 1998, against Virginia Tech.
Like the big boys
UAB took a cue from the NFL, as the Blazers opened their home season against the Eagles.
While performers such as Brittany Spears, Areosmith, Mary J. Blige and the legendary Aretha Franklin strutted their stuff in our nations capitol, Rueben of American Ideal put on a show of his own at Legion Field.
The Birmingham, Ala., native took center field during halftime of the nationally televised game between the two C-USA foes.
Rueben was a big hit in more ways than one. The crooner nicknamed the "velvet teddy bear" reportedly wears a 9X jersey.
Eagles will travel
In the sea of vehicles donning UAB stickers and flags, a four-door Toyota stuck out.
A pack of six people showed their Southern Miss spirit all the way from the Magnolia State to Legion Field.
The Toyota had two USM flags stuck to its left and right rear-passenger windows, a Eagles decal on both of the front side doors and one passenger waved a large USM flag out the car's sunroof at stops.
Curiously enough, the car decked out in so much USM paraphernalia had an Ole Miss license plate.