NCAAF Game Recap - Southern Miss at Tulane
Sat Jan 4, 2020 11:30 AM EST

UGA
26
Bayl
14
F
Oreg
28
Wisc
27
F
Minn
31
Aub
24
F
Mich
16
Ala
35
F
Utah
10
Tex
38
F
Navy
20
K St
17
F
BC
6
Cin
38
F
VaTec
30
KY
37
F
FlaSt
14
AzSt
20
F
GASt
17
Wyo
38
F
Ind
22
Tenn
23
F
Ohio
30
Nev
21
F
SMiss
13
Tul
30
F
ULLaf
27
MiaOH
17
F

Jan 4, 2020, 11:30 AM EST

Final

1

2

3

4

T

Southern Miss (7-6)

13

0

0

0

13

Tulane (7-6)

0

6

24

0

30

Tulane rallies for 30-13 win over Southern Miss in AF Bowl
Sat Jan 4, 2020 5:27 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Justin McMillan won two Texas state championships playing for a high school only about 35 miles away from where he played his last game for Tulane. Both of his parents served in the Army.

The Armed Forces Bowl provided a storybook finish for his college career.

McMillan, who started for the Green Wave for two seasons after transferring from LSU, threw three touchdown passes in the third quarter as Tulane rallied for a 30-13 win while renewing a rivalry against Southern Mississippi on Saturday.

"It is a home game. I live right down the road," said McMillan, who went to Cedar Hill High School. "It feels good to, one, play a game down here, two, to have two parents in the military. It's literally a Cinderella story for me."

Tulane (7-6) finished consecutive seasons with bowl wins for the first time in school history.

The Golden Eagles (7-6) took a 13-0 lead after Jack Abraham threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score on their first drives, but the quarterback took a hard shot on his last snap before halftime and didn't play again. They also lost top running back De'Michael Harris to a hamstring injury in the first half.

Tulane tied the game at 13-all on its first possession after halftime, when McMillan threw a 52-yard TD pass to Jalen McCleskey.

"Obviously we didn't play great in the first half. ... Five weeks off, I think that hurt us a little bit," coach Willie Fritz said. "It takes a while to get the rhythm back."

The Green Wave certainly did after halftime, when Southern Miss struggled without two of its offensive threats.

"We really just had a disastrous third quarter any way you want to cut it," Golden Eagles coach Jay Hopson said. "Tulane made plays offensively, they had some explosives, we had some mental errors. I think explosive plays kill you in football. I thought we played hard and I believe we competed to the very end. ... Injuries are always a part of the game and it's just next man up."

McMillan had a high-stepping 18-yard run to set up Merek Glover's third field goal, a tiebreaking 36-yarder, before TD passes to Jacob Robertson (7 yards) and a wide-open Amare Jones (20 yards) on the next two drives.

After only 22 yards passing at halftime, McMillan was 9-of-10 for 193 yards in the second half.

Abraham, only the third Golden Eagles quarterback with a 3,000-yard passing season, threw 44-yard touchdown pass to Quez Watkins and ran 3 yards for another score for the 13-0 lead.

But Abraham took a shot on a blitz by linebacker Lawrence Graham and fell hard on his shoulder on a third-down incompletion in the final minute of the first half. Abraham never returned, though he was still in uniform on the sideline after halftime.

"I knew I struck him, but I didn't think he was going to be out," Graham said. "I'm not ever intentionally trying to hurt anybody, and I hope he's all right. ... We had perfect play called up, and just free, and full-steam ahead."

THE TAKEAWAY

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles had 164 total yards after their first two drives, and only 35 more the rest of the first half. Thad Whatley, the sophomore quarterback who took over for Abraham, had attempted only seven passes while appearing in two games during the regular season. He was 9-of-22 passing for 134 yards with two interceptions. Watkins finished with eight catches for 121 yards.

Tulane: A positive finish for the Green Wave after losing their last three games in the regular season. They had gotten off to a 5-1 start before back-to-back road losses in late October to Memphis and Navy.

BATTLE FOR THE BELL

The Green Wave not only got the Armed Forces Bowl trophy, they won the "Battle for the Bell" and took home that trophy. While their campuses are only about 115 miles apart, both teams traveled more than 500 miles for their first meeting since 2010. They were charter members in Conference USA, but Tulane left that league after the 2013 season for the American Athletic Conference. Southern Miss had possessed the bell since 2003, after the first of six consecutive wins in the series.

UP NEXT

Southern Miss will open Hopson's fifth season, after four consecutive winning seasons, on Sept. 5 at home against South Alabama. Abraham, the former junior college transfer who has started 22 games the past two seasons, is expected back and could have his top three receivers: Watkins, Jaylond Adams and Tim Jones.

Tulane will have a new quarterback, possibly former Southern Miss transfer Keon Howard. The Green Wave this season went to consecutive bowls for the first time since 1979-80, but they have never gone to bowl games in three consecutive seasons. They start the season with a Thursday night game at home on Sept. 3 against Southeastern Louisiana.

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Passing

SMiss Att Cmp % TD-Pa Yds-Pa LgPa Int Rat
J. Abraham 23 17 73.9 1 167 44 0 108.4
T. Whatley 22 9 40.9 0 134 42 2 23.7
Tul Att Cmp % TD-Pa Yds-Pa LgPa Int Rat
J. McMillan 18 13 72.2 3 215 52 0 151.6

Rushing

SMiss Att Yds-Ru Avg LgRu TD-Ru
T. Mosley 7 43 6.1 12 0
D. Baker 2 6 3.0 5 0
Tul Att Yds-Ru Avg LgRu TD-Ru
C. Carroll 9 48 5.3 22 0
J. McMillan 17 41 2.4 18 0

Receiving

SMiss Rec Yds-Rc Avg LgRc TD-Rc
Q. Watkins 9 154 17.1 44 1
T. Jones 7 62 8.9 18 0
Tul Rec Yds-Rc Avg LgRc TD-Rc
J. McCleskey 2 87 43.5 52 1
A. Jones 5 57 11.4 21 1

Fumbles

Tul F FL
A. Jones 1 0

Returning

SMiss KR Avg KRTD LgKR PR Avg TD LgPR
Q. Watkins 1 15.0 0 15 2 11.0 0 12
D. Harris 1 39.0 0 39 0 - 0 0
Tul KR Avg KRTD LgKR PR Avg TD LgPR
A. Jones 3 20.7 0 24 1 17.0 0 17

Punting

SMiss Punt Yds Avg LgPu
M. Bromell 8 318 39.8 45
Tul Punt Yds Avg LgPu
R. Wright 6 289 48.2 55

Takeaways

Tul Int Yds InTD
L. Brooks 1 29 0
C. Kuerschen 1 0 0

Team Stats Comparison

SMiss Tul
Points For 13 30
Total Yards 359 379
Rushing Yards 58 164
Passing Yards 301 215
Passing Completions / Attempts 26/45 13/18
Turnovers 2 0
Interceptions Thrown 2 0
Fumbles - Lost 0/0 1/0
First Downs 15 19
Penalties - Yards 10/82 6/50
Time Of Possession 7:07 53:53
Third Down Conversions/Attempts 6/17 3/13
Fourth Down Conversions/Attempts 0/2 0/1
Punts - Average Yards 8/40 6/48

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter SMiss Tul
SMiss 2:53 TD Quez Watkins 44 yd pass from Jack Abraham (missed kick) 6 0
SMiss 9:37 TD Jack Abraham 3 yd run (Andrew Stein kick) 13 0
2nd Quarter SMiss Tul
Tul 2:19 FG Merek Glover 31 yd FG 13 3
Tul 10:23 FG Merek Glover 31 yd FG 13 6
3rd Quarter SMiss Tul
Tul 1:40 TD Jalen McCleskey 52 yd pass from Justin McMillan (Merek Glover kick) 13 13
Tul 8:44 FG Merek Glover 36 yd FG 13 16
Tul 9:23 TD Jacob Robertson Jr. 7 yd pass from Justin McMillan (Merek Glover kick) 13 23
Tul 13:06 TD Amare Jones 20 yd pass from Justin McMillan (Merek Glover kick) 13 30
4th Quarter SMiss Tul
No scores this quarter

Game Information

Stadium: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
Attendance: 38,513
Game Time:
Weather: