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Louisville usurps power in C-USA

Dave Ragone accounts for four touchdowns as the Cardinals drub Southern Miss 49-28.

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Louisville football team might have been the second-biggest story in Kentucky entering Saturday, but the Cardinals might be sharing the front page with the Breeders' Cup today.

The Cardinals took control of the Conference USA race and ended Southern Mississippi's 14-game league-winning streak by rolling 49-28 behind a four-touchdown performance by sophomore quarterback Dave Ragone.

In winning for the first time in Hattiesburg in 20 years, the Cardinals jumped into first place in the league standings and can clinch the conference title and a spot in the Liberty Bowl with wins over Army and Houston.

Southern Miss was dealt its first home loss in a Conference USA game and suffered its first league defeat since a 21-7 setback against Tulane on Oct. 3, 1998.

Ragone ran for two touchdowns and threw for two against the turnover-plagued Golden Eagles.

Jeff Kelly threw four interceptions as Southern Miss allowed more touchdowns in one day than it had in the entire season.

Anthony Floyd had three picks, including one in the end zone on Southern Miss' first drive. Floyd had a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the second quarter. His third set up Ragone' 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Dewayne White also had an interception return for a touchdown, a 35-yarder in the third quarter.

A week after giving up three points to Houston, Southern Miss saw Louisville score 21 in the second and third quarters. The Cardinals had 419 yards of total offense to USM's 361.

Ragone completed 25 of 42 passes for 293 yards against a defense that had been ranked second nationally in points allowed per game at 9.8. Ragone also scored on a 1-yard run, and he threw a 6-yard score to Deion Branch and a 3-yarder to Ronnie Ghent. Ghent had six catches for 117 yards.

The Eagles' offense struggled with limited play from Derrick Nix, who missed the past three games with an injured ankle. He scored on a 1-yard run to put Southern Mississippi ahead 7-0 in the first quarter. It was the Eagles' only lead.

Nix had 12 yards on seven carries but still was the Eagles' second-best rusher. Dawayne Woods had 47 yards on 11 carries.

Kelly was 18-of-32 for 300 yards. He had a 50-yard scoring strike to Woods in the second quarter, then connected with Kennet Johnson on a 55-yard score in the third quarter to tie it at 21. Louisville scored 28 straight points.

USM scored once in each quarter, the final coming on Kelby Nance's 1-yard run.

T.J. Patterson had a 5-yard scramble for Louisville's seventh touchdown. Southern Miss had given up six touchdowns in its past seven games.

Louisville had two fumbles, including one that set up Nix's touchdown. Southern Miss' only turnovers were interceptions.

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