Nov 23, 2002
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Mewelde Moore accounted for 194 yards and scored a touchdown as Tulane defeated Southern Mississippi 31-10 Saturday to clinch its first bowl appearance since 1998.
Moore ran for 136 yards on 32 carries and caught five passes for 58 yards. His 5-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter sealed the game.
The victory guaranteed Tulane (7-5, 4-4 Conference USA) a bowl berth because Conference USA has five bowl tie-ins, and the league will not have more than five teams with at least seven victories each this season, conference officials said.
Southern Miss (6-5, 4-3) has one game remaining at home against East Carolina next Saturday.
Moore, a junior, finished Tulane's regular season with 1,022 yards and is the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,333 yards.
Tulane's J.P. Losman completed 11 of 19 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown - a 64-yard bomb to Nick Narcisse on a third-and-12 play in the third quarter. Lynaris Elpheage set up a field goal with his eighth interception of the season. He also was inserted on offense periodically and scored on the first offensive play of his career, a 16-yard touchdown end-around that gave Tulane a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
"[Playing Elpheage on offense] is something we've been talking about all year and felt like he might give is a spark, and he did," head coach Chris Scelfo said.
The versatile Elpheage has now scored touchdowns via rush, punt return, kickoff return, fumble return and interception return in his career.
"[Playing offense] was real, real fun," Elpheage said. "I was just trying to give us a spark to get going early...I wa sbegging the whole season [to play offense] and it finally paid off."
Micky D'Angelo completed 22 of 38 passes for 211 yards for Southern Miss but fumbled twice and was intercepted twice. His fumbles led to the Elpheage and Moore TDs.
Derrick Nix led the Golden Eagles with 90 yards on 19 carries and scored the only Southern Miss touchdown on a 7-yard run that made the score 10-7 in the second quarter. Nix eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in a season for the third time in his career on an 11-yard run during that scoring drive.
Seth Marler kicked field goals of 51, 38 and 37 yards for Tulane. After Marler's 51-yarder gave Tulane a 13-7 lead, Southern Miss was able to pull within 13-10 at the half by taking advantage of Tulane's decision not to run out the clock following Jeff Sanchez's interception at the Green Wave 13 with less than two minutes left in the quarter.
Tulane moved the ball to the Golden Eagle 42 but was forced to punt with 40 seconds left. The kick went off the side of Marler's foot and out of the bounds at the Southern Miss 48, setting up a 21-yard field goal by Curt Jones.