(Saturday, October 31st)
Final Score: (15) Houston 50, Southern Miss 43
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Case Keenum threw five touchdown passes, including a 28-yarder to Patrick Edwards with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter, as 15th-ranked Houston earned a wild 50-43 win over Southern Mississippi in a Conference USA battle at Robertson Stadium.
With 3:36 to play and Houston ahead 43-36, Southern Miss went 78 yards in eight plays to tie the game as Martevious Young connected with Gerald Baptiste for a 13-yard score with 57 seconds left.
However, the Cougars (7-1, 3-1 C-USA) would respond in a big way. Keenum quickly guided the offense just past midfield in four plays before hitting Edwards in stride for the 28-yard scoring strike. Edwards was then flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Houston had to kick off from its own 15-yard line.
Southern Miss (5-4, 3-2) got the ball on its own 45 and after Young threw two straight incompletions, the Golden Eagles used their remaining timeouts to draw up a play with four seconds left. Young's desperation heave, though, fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.
"Every week you see wild games and you hope you're not part of it," Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "It's how you finish that situation. Our guys didn't panic, we made enough plays to win and that's the bottom line. This whole thing pays off on results. Our goals are still ahead of us and we're still tied for first in the west. We still have a chance to achieve everything we planned to."
Keenum completed 44-of-54 throws for a career-best 559 yards, while James Cleveland had 13 catches for 190 yards and a pair of scores for Houston, which has won four straight since dropping a 58-41 decision to UTEP on October 3.
Charles Sims rushed 14 times for 95 yards and a score, and Tim Monroe and A.J. Dugat each had a TD grab for Cougars, who racked up 750 yards of offense compared to 608 for Southern Miss. Edwards had seven receptions for 79 yards.
Young passed for 334 yards and three scores on 20-of-34 efficiency, and also rushed for 70 yards on 10 carries with a TD for Southern Miss, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.
Baptiste hauled in eight passes for 186 yards and three TDs, while Damion Fletcher led the Golden Eagles' ground attack with 136 yards on 26 carries with a score.
"Our guys fought until the last second like I knew they would," Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora said. "We said we were going to win the game in the fourth quarter. We put ourselves in position and it was close but we just couldn't get it done."
Southern Miss recovered a Bryce Beall fumble on Houston's first play from scrimmage at the Cougars' 21 and turned it into a quick six points. Fletcher's six-yard run up the middle capped the brief four-play drive, but Justin Estes' extra point attempt was blocked.
Sims' 31-yard TD run with a shade under 6 1/2 minutes left in the quarter put Houston in front 7-6. Young's 70-yard hookup with Baptiste with a minute to play gave the Eagles a 13-7 lead.
The back-and-forth battle continued when a Keenum-to-Dugat connection went for a 33-yard score. After Southern Miss went three-and-out, Keenum went back to work and threw a 55-yard TD strike to Monroe for a 21-13 Cougars lead.
Young's one-yard run with 7:49 left in the second got the Eagles to within two, but Danny Hrapmann had his point after attempt blocked and it was returned for a two-point conversion for Houston. The visitors then made it a one-point game when Hrapmann drilled a 29-yard field goal at the 2 1/2 minute mark.
Houston then took a 30-22 lead on Keenum's 14-yard strike to Cleveland with 37 seconds to play in the half.
Matt Hogan's 34-yard field goal with 4:03 left in the third upped the Cougars' lead to double digits and a Keenum-to-Cleveland 17-yard connection increased the advantage to 40-22 early in the fourth.
Tory Harrison answered with a one-yard TD run with nearly nine minutes left for Southern Miss, but Hogan nailed a 23-yarder with 6:41 to go. A Young-to- Baptiste five-yard TD drew the Golden Eagles to within seven at 43-36 with nearly 5 1/2 minutes to play. With Houston driving on its ensuing possession, Beall coughed up the ball again and Southern Miss recovered at its own 22, leading to the game-tying drive.
Houston will visit Tulsa on November 7, while Southern Mississippi plays at Marshall on November 14...The Cougars and Eagles clashed for the first time since last year's C-USA championship game, a 34-20 Houston win...USM still leads the series 7-5.
10/31 18:56:24 ET