HONOLULU - Austin Davis made the plays when it counted to send Southern Mississippi coach Larry Fedora out a winner.
Davis threw two touchdowns, including a 4-yarder late in the game, and No. 22 Southern Miss earned a school-record 12th victory by holding off Nevada 24-17 in the Hawaii Bowl on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
"It wasn't his best game, but he did enough to help us win this football game," said Fedora, who is leaving after four seasons to take over at North Carolina.
Southern Mississippi coach Larry Fedora holds the Hawaii Bowl trophy after Saturday’s 24-17 win over Nevada at Aloha Stadium.
Davis overcame a shaky game for the Conference USA-champion Golden Eagles (12-2), and the defense in the second half managed to shut down Nevada's pistol attack.
"I thought we struggled the entire game offensively. We made a few big plays at the end, but really the defense, these guys were special and they've done that all year," Davis said. "We made a play or two on offense when we needed to."
On third-and-goal on the game-winning drive, Davis scrambled right and found Kelvin Bolden for the 4-yard score with 5:48 to go, capping a seven-play, 68-yard possession. Davis had just 59 passing yards at halftime and finished 18-of-41 for 165 yards.
On the winning drive, Davis was 3-of-4 for 66 yards, including a 43-yard completion to Dominique Sullivan down the right sideline and a 19-yarder to a crossing William Spight. Sullivan had five catches for 75 yards.
The Golden Eagles then stopped Lampford Mark on a fourth-and-1 play at midfield with 3:56 left. Mark had 183 rushing yards for the Wolf Pack (7-6), but just 21 in the second half.
"Our offense in the second half - our offensive front just didn't get it done at all and I was really disappointed in that aspect of it. We got stopped on two fourth-and-1s," said Nevada coach Chris Ault.
The game had a Hawaii Bowl-record 17 punts, and the 41 combined points were the fewest in bowl history.
"We worked so hard, all the weeks and weeks of preparation. It doesn't feel right not winning," Mark said.
The Wolf Pack's Cody Fajardo completed eight of 19 passes for 60 yards and ran for 14 yards before being replaced by Tyler Lantrip, who passed for 57 yards.
Southern Miss scored the first touchdown of the game on a blocked punt early in the second quarter. After Tim Green got his hand on the ball, Tray Becton-Martin recovered in the end zone. Becton-Martin is the 25th different player to score for the Golden Eagles this year, which leads the nation.
Nevada ................. 0 ..... 14 ..... 3 ..... 0-17
Southern Miss. ..... 0 ..... 17 ..... 0 ..... 7-24
USM-Becton-Martin 0 blocked punt return (Hrapmann kick), 14:06.
Nev-Mark 5 run (Hardison kick), 7:45.
Nev-Mark 45 run (Hardison kick), 4:54.
USM-FG Hrapmann 48, 1:21.
USM-Lampley 2 pass from A.Davis (Hrapmann kick), :12.
Nev-FG Hardison 37, 2:44.
USM-Bolden 4 pass from A.Davis (Hrapmann kick), 5:48.
|Time of possession||31:50||28:10|
RUSHING-Nevada, Mark 29-183, Fajardo 9-14, Jefferson 1-6, Lantrip 4-(minus 1), Team 1-(minus 2), Session 1-(minus 4). Southern Miss., D.Johnson 16-77, Woodyard 3-49, Hrapmann 1-29, A.Davis 9-20, Lampley 7-13, Team 3-(minus 6), Bolden 1-(minus 11).
PASSING-Nevada, Fajardo 8-19-1-60, Lantrip 5-9-0-57. Southern Miss., A.Davis 18-41-0-165, Pierce 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-Nevada, Bradley 7-64, Session 2-39, Hale 2-16, Jefferson 1-0, Mark 1-(minus 2). Southern Miss., Sullivan 5-75, Lampley 4-25, Bolden 3-24, D.Johnson 2-5, Spight 1-19, Triplett 1-11, Briggs 1-5, Llanos 1-1.
All times HST
Hawaii Bowl At Honolulu
S. Mississippi 24, Nevada 17
Independence Bowl At Shreveport, La.
North Carolina (7-5) vs. Missouri (7-5), noon (ESPN2)
Little Caesars Bowl At Detroit
Purdue (6-6) vs. W. Michigan (7-5), 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Belk Bowl At Charlotte, N.C.
N.C. State (7-5) vs. Louisville (7-5), 3 p.m. (ESPN)