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USM stays perfect in C-USA

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
October 26, 2003
HATTIESBURG The University of Southern Mississippi (4-3, 4-0 Conference USA) found ways to score points in spectacular ways on Saturday.
The Eagles, who have averaged just 13.5 points per game, tallied 20 points in the opening half en route to a 27-6 victory over the University of South Florida Bulls (4-3, 2-2 C-USA).
USM sophomore quarterback Dustin Almond completed an 80-yard touchdown pass on game's first play from scrimmage, and Rod Davis returned a blocked field goal 61 yards for a score in the first half.
Almond added another touchdown pass near the end of the second quarter it was the first time the Eagles have passed for two touchdowns in a game this year.
The sophomore finished the game passing for 175 yards, completing 10-of-22 attempts, with two touchdowns and one interception.
USM finished the game with 337 yards of offense, after averaging just 279.7 yards per game midway through the season. The Eagles set season high marks for points, first downs, yards and passing touchdowns in the win.
USM also found its running game in the strong legs of sophomore running back Anthony Harris.
The 5-foot-11, 222-pound back carried the ball 16 times for 102 yards. He was the Eagles' first 100-yard rusher for the year.
Almond, who wasn't announced as the starter until the first snap of the game, wasted little time showing why he was selected.
The sophomore quarterback hit wide receiver Marvin Young in stride down the middle of the field on the first play from scrimmage for an 80-yard score.
Young made his way into the end zone with a spin move at the four-yard line to avoid USF's final defender on the right side line. The Bulls blocked the Eagles' point-after attempt.
USM returned the favor of a blocked kick to USF in the second quarter.
After a Bulls' drive stalled on the Eagles' 23, USF kicker Santiago Gramatica who had earlier kicked a 28-yard field goal came on to attempt a 40-yard field goal in an effort to tie the game at 6-6.
Eagles defensive back Seth Cumbie was able to come around the corner of the Bulls' line to block Gramatica's kick, and Davis scooped up the ball on the 39-yard line.
Davis picked up the bouncing pigskin and rumbled 61 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown and a 13-3 lead, with 9:27 left in the first half.
USM struck again in the second quarter, with another big assist from its special teams.
Eagles sophomore punter Luke Johnson sent a kick from his own 22-yard line to the Bull's 2. USF was forced to punt from in its own end zone, after the 76-yard punt.
Almond, who was replaced by freshman Damion Carter midway through the second quarter, re-entered the game following Young's punt return to the Bulls 29-yard line.
The sophomore connected on a 14-yard pass and ran for five yards before hitting Young in the end zone for a 10-yard scoring toss and a 20-3 lead, with 1:12 left in the half.
USM scored in a more traditional manner 10 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Harris capped a five-play, 52-yard drive that started at the end of the third quarter, with a rushing touchdown. The sophomore back raced down the right sideline for a 27-yard touchdown.
Gramatica tallied USF's only points of the game on field goals of 28 and 29 yards.
The Bulls tallied 386 total yards on offense and quarterback Ronnie Banks completed 22-of-52 passes for 260 yards, but the Eagles didn't allow the opposition to reach the end zone.