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2008 New Orleans Bowl – Southern Miss Wins Year’s First OT Bowl Game, Stops Troy in a Thriller

New Orleans is an exciting place to drink and dance, a city that takes Mardi Gras to heart, and now the city that Creole cuisine and jazz built has its own bowl game to add even more excitement thanks to outrageous uniforms and south of the Mississippi.

The Golden Eagles got off to an inauspicious start and fantastic finish by winning the bowl’s first overtime game of the season, a crazy, wacky, wonderful 30-27 win over Troy in New Orleans Bowl Sunday (12-21- 08).

For the openers, Southern Miss players showed up to play in all-gold uniforms, defying orders to wear white jerseys as the designated visiting team; they were penalized with the loss of a time out for their impertinence.

They made a false start by lining up for their first offensive game.

Two plays later, the Trojans took a 7-0 lead on a defensive touchdown when Jorrick Calvin hit a lateral, recovered it and went 17 yards on a fumble return.

Now, you might think Southern Miss was in big trouble at this point, but that would be understating a team that went on a 5-game losing streak earlier in the season, dropping their record to 2-6. The Golden Eagles went on to win 4 straight to qualify for a bowl game.

The Troy Trojans won the Sun Belt Conference title and led 27-17 after Jerrel Jernigan’s 6-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter, but Southern Miss was just starting to work its magic. Quarterback Austin Davis rolled on a 4-and-2 and threw a 35-yard pass to tight end Jonathan Massey with 7:20 left in regulation.

Britt Barefoot, a big name for a kicker, would later nail his second field goal of the game, a 46-yarder with less than 3 minutes to go to send the game into overtime, the bowl’s first overtime game of the 2008 season.

The Trojans then held Southern Miss to a 39-yard field goal from Britt Barefoot on the Golden Eagles’ first possession in overtime, which proved enough for the win when Michael McGee blocked the 28-yard field goal attempt from Britt Barefoot. Troy to tie the game. The Southern Miss sideline and fans then exploded with mixed emotions of joy and happiness.

The win was Larry Fedora’s first bowl game as South Mississippi head coach, and the Golden Eagles’ 3rd New Orleans Bowl win in 3 appearances.

More importantly, the win was the 5th in a row for Southern Miss, who needed the top 4 to qualify for the bowling game and the last 1 to extend the school’s winning streak to 15. Imagine, 15 seasons consecutive winners, a record that very few teams could equal.

Southern Miss finished the season at 7-6; Troy had to settle for an 8-5 record.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

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