Houston 56, No. 20 Southern Mississippi 49
HOUSTON (AP) _ Antowain Smith scored six touchdowns, the last a 12-yard run in overtime, to lead Houston to a 56-49 victory over No. 20 Southern Mississippi Saturday night.
The victory kept Southern Mississippi from clinching the first Conference USA title and gave Houston (6-4, 3-1) a chance to tie for the crown if they beat Louisville on Saturday.
Houston trailed 28-14 early in the third quarter but rallied to a 49-42 lead with 3:42 to play on a school-record 87-yard punt return by Charles West.
Smith also scored on runs of 3, 1, 1 and 3 yards, and caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Chuck Clements.
The Golden Eagles forced the overtime on a 3-yard run by Harold Shaw with 35 seconds left in regulation. They won the overtime toss and elected to play defense first. It took Smith, who rushed 231 yards on 31 carries, only two plays to get in the end zone, going 13 yards on the first play and scoring on the next.
Houston’s victory spoiled an outstanding performance by Southern Mississippi’s Kendrick Lee, who had touchdown catches of 50, 42 and 28 yards, and quarterback Lee Roberts, who completed 27 of 36 passes for 398 yards.
But it ended for the Golden Eagles on fourth down from the 7, when Roberts threw a pass in the flat to Brandon Francis, who was stopped at the 1-yard line by freshman cornerback William Fields, setting off a wild celebration.
Trailing 28-14, Houston tied it in the third quarter on Chuck Clements’ 1-yard pass and the 26-yard pass to Smith. They traded scores before the end of the period and started the fourth quarter tied once again, 35-35.
The Golden Eagles led 21-14 at the half.