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Southern Miss 21, (22) Cincinnati 31

1 2 3 4 T
USM (7-6) 7 0 7 7 21
#22 CIN (10-3) 0 14 17 0 31

Final

1:00 PM ET, December 22, 2007
Legion Field,
Birmingham, AL

Mauk, Bearcats spoil Bower's final game at Southern Miss.

Cincinnati Wins the Papajohns.com Bowl
Bowl Overview
It was over when... Ben Mauk connected on his fourth touchdown pass of the game, this one a 10-yarder Antwuan Giddens that put the Bearcats up 28-14 in the third quarter.
Gameball goes to... Mauk. Mauk completed 30 of 52 passes for 334 yards and 4 TDs. Mauk also ran for 41 yards, all while dancing around the pocket to give himself time to throw.
Stat of the game... Two. The win was Cincinnati's 10th of the season, just the second time in school history that Bearcats have reached that total.
Team Stat Comparison
 
1st Downs1921
Total Yards339405
Passing122334
Rushing21771
Penalties8-808-51
3rd Down Conversions6-176-14
4th Down Conversions1-41-2
Turnovers34
Possession33:3626:24
Individual Leaders
Southern Miss Passing
 C/ATTYDSTDINT
Young18/3212223
Cincinnati Passing
 C/ATTYDSTDINT
Mauk30/5233443
Southern Miss Rushing
 CARYDSTDLG
Fletch...29155040
Cincinnati Rushing
 CARYDSTDLG
Mauk1241014
Southern Miss Receiving
 RECYDSTDLG
Fletch...750016
Cincinnati Receiving
 RECYDSTDLG
Goodma...795220
Scoring Summary
FIRST QUARTERUSMUC
TD05:23Shawn Nelson 10 Yd Pass From Jeremy Young (Justin Estes Kick)
Drive: 5 plays, 59 yds, 1:55
70
SECOND QUARTERUSMUC
TD06:12Dominick Goodman 14 Yd Pass From Ben Mauk (Jake Rogers Kick)
Drive: 7 plays, 75 yds, 2:19
77
TD00:24Dominick Goodman 5 Yd Pass From Ben Mauk (Jake Rogers Kick)
Drive: 6 plays, 49 yds, 1:23
714
THIRD QUARTERUSMUC
TD13:17Earnest Jackson 29 Yd Pass From Ben Mauk (Jake Rogers Kick)
Drive: 1 plays, 29 yds, :09
721
TD06:48Jeremy Young 1 Yd Run (Justin Estes Kick)
Drive: 14 plays, 80 yds, 6:29
1421
TD04:08Antwuan Giddens 10 Yd Pass From Ben Mauk (Jake Rogers Kick)
Drive: 8 plays, 58 yds, 2:40
1428
FG00:05Jake Rogers 22 Yd
Drive: 9 plays, 51 yds, 2:28
1431
FOURTH QUARTERUSMUC
TD09:37Chris Johnson 5 Yd Pass From Jeremy Young (Justin Estes Kick)
Drive: 11 plays, 76 yds, 5:28
2131

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Ben Mauk shrugged off mistakes and Southern Miss defenders alike, and helped Cincinnati (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) make one more entry into an impressive season.

Outgoing Golden Eagles coach Jeff Bower, meanwhile, couldn't put another win on his ledger.

The hard-to-tackle Mauk passed for 334 yards and four touchdowns, and DeAngelo Smith intercepted three passes Saturday, leading the Bearcats to a 31-21 victory over Southern Miss in the Papajohns.com Bowl.

The victory gave Cincinnati (10-3) its second 10-win season and first since 1951, while virtually assuring a spot in the final rankings for the first time.

"It's kind of finishing off what's been a really important season in UC football," first-year coach Brian Kelly said. "It started out with waking up a program that maybe had nodded off a little bit. It took us six wins this year to get ranked in the Top 25. I don't know that it will take six next year."

Mauk, the game's most valuable player, completed 30 of 52 passes and overcame three interceptions to become only the third Bearcats player to have a 3,000-yard passing season. It was a nice finish for the former Wake Forest starter, but a difficult one for Southern Miss (7-6) and Bower.

It was the final game for Bower after 17 seasons at his alma mater, a stay that ranks behind only that of Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Frank Beamer among current coaches. Bower was forced to resign after a disappointing regular season, leading to the hiring of Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora.

Bower walked off the field, his arm draped around daughter Stephanie and admitted he got "a little emotional" in the locker room afterward.

"We played extremely hard, but obviously we didn't make enough plays to win the game," he said. "But it certainly wasn't from lack of effort. They played hard, and that makes me proud. That's what a coach wants to see more than anything else. Our guys played their tails off, and I'm proud of them for it."

Kelly had praise for Bower when they met on the field.

"You could see how much those kids loved him and how they played and rallied around him," he said. "They played with a lot of energy and passion that you normally don't see in a bowl game. You could feel that on the sidelines. I wanted him to know that."

Bower's team couldn't convert several chances to at least make the ending interesting. Mostly, though, they couldn't stop Kelly's spread offense.

Mauk, who also rushed for 41 yards and frequently broke loose from defenders to make plays, threw three touchdown passes during an 8-minute span extending into the second half.

"I don't know how strong he is, but he's a slippery little guy," Southern Miss defensive end Matthew Chatelain said.

Added Bower, "We probably should have had 10 or 12 sacks in the game. He made us miss, and then he made plays."

For Mauk, who intends to apply for another season of eligibility because of an injury-shortened junior year at Wake Forest, his scrambling helped in more than the obvious ways.

"Anytime you can make the defensive linemen run, it wears them down a little bit in the fourth quarter," he said. "I think you saw how tired they got toward the end of the game."

Bower's third-quarter gamble didn't pay off. Cincinnati stopped punter Britt Barefoot on a fake punt on fourth-and-1 from his own 29. Mauk hit Earnest Jackson for a 29-yard TD strike on the next play for a 21-7 lead. Jeremy Young answered with a 1-yard scoring run for Southern Miss before Mauk struck again with a 10-yarder to Antwuan Giddens and set up a 22-yard field goal by Jake Rogers in the final seconds of the third quarter to put the Bearcats up 31-14.

Young cut into the lead again with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Johnson. But Southern Miss couldn't recover an onside kick or convert a fourth-and-1 play on its next possession.

"I really wish we could have gotten that onside kick," Bower said. "If we could have got that, we would have had great momentum. I thought we had a great chance to get that. It looked like it went right under one of our guy's legs."

Smith's third pick ended any hope of a comeback in the final minutes after Brandon Summerall's interception in the end zone gave Southern Miss a slim chance.

Damion Fletcher provided most of the offense for Southern Miss. He ran 29 times for 155 yards against a defense that came in allowing just 106 yards on the ground. He also caught seven passes for 50 yards.

Young was 18-for-32 for 122 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 55 yards. He was sacked four times and threw the three interceptions.

"It's a tough way to go out, but it's time for us to move on to bigger and better things," Young said.

Goodman caught seven passes for 95 yards and a pair of scores for Cincinnati. Connor Barwin (86 yards) and Antwuan Giddens (64) also had seven catches apiece. Leading receiver Marcus Barnett left the game in the first half with a leg injury and didn't return.

College Football Scores

Other Scores:

Thursday, December 20th
Utah 35 Final
Navy 32
Friday, December 21st
Memphis 27 Final
Florida Atlantic 44
Saturday, December 22nd
UCLA 16 Final
17 Brigham Young 17
Southern Miss 21 Final
22 Cincinnati 31
Nevada 0 Final
New Mexico 23
Sunday, December 23rd
24 Boise State 38 Final
East Carolina 41
Wednesday, December 26th
Purdue 51 Final
Central Michigan 48
Thursday, December 27th
11 Arizona State 34 Final
19 Texas 52
Friday, December 28th
14 Boston College 24 Final
Michigan State 21
TCU 20 Final
Houston 13
Maryland 14 Final
Oregon State 21
Saturday, December 29th
25 Connecticut 10 Final
Wake Forest 24
UCF 3 Final
Mississippi State 10
Penn State 24 Final
Texas A&M 17
Sunday, December 30th
Alabama 30 Final
Colorado 24
Monday, December 31st
15 Clemson 20 Final
23 Auburn 23 OT
21 South Florida 21 Final
Oregon 56
California 42 Final
Air Force 36
Georgia Tech 28 Final
Fresno State 40
Kentucky 35 Final
Florida State 28
Indiana 33 Final
Oklahoma State 49
Tuesday, January 1st
10 Hawaii 10 Final
5 Georgia 41
6 Missouri 38 Final
Arkansas 7
13 Illinois 17 Final
7 USC 49
Michigan 41 Final
12 Florida 35
18 Wisconsin 17 Final
16 Tennessee 21
Texas Tech 31 Final
20 Virginia 28
Wednesday, January 2nd
9 West Virginia 48 Final
4 Oklahoma 28
Thursday, January 3rd
8 Kansas 24 Final
3 Virginia Tech 21
Saturday, January 5th
Rutgers 52 Final
Ball State 30
Sunday, January 6th
Bowling Green 7 Final
Tulsa 63
Monday, January 7th
2 LSU 38 Final
1 Ohio State 24