By The Associated Press
TULSA, Okla. — G.J. Kinne passed for 406 yards and four touchdowns and ran for two scores as Tulsa outlasted Southern Miss 56-50 Friday.
Willie Carter scored three touchdowns for Tulsa (9-3, 6-2 Conference USA).
The Hurricane tied Southern Methodist at 6-2 for the West Division title but SMU owns the tiebreaker with its 21-18 victory over Tulsa earlier. Southern Miss (8-4, 5-3) was eliminated from the conference East Division race with the loss.
Carter scored on a passes of 67 and 12 yards from Kinne and on a 41-yard reverse as the Hurricane rolled up 634 yards of offense. Kinne completed 23 of 37 passes with two interceptions.
Austin Davis passed for 371 yards and two scores for the Golden Eagles. Kendrick Hardy had 91 yards rushing and Desmond Johnson added 86 yards and two touchdowns.
Kinne’s 3-yard touchdown run gave Tulsa a 56-47 lead with 3:46 to play. USM scored on a 44-yard field goal by Danny Hrapmann to cut the lead to 56-50 with 1:26 left, then attempted an onsides kick. Damaris Johnson, the all-time NCAA leader in kick return yardage, fell on the kick.
Trae Johnson had four receptions for 113 yards, including a one-handed grab of a 30-yard strike from Kinne at the USM 7 that set up Kinne’s clinching run.
Johnson had 82 yards rushing, 37 receiving and 106 return yards. Kinne became the fourth quarterback in TU history to pass for more than 400 yards.
Despite giving up 357 yards and 28 points in the first half, USM trailed just 28-24.
Franciso Llanos returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown and Reggie Hunt scored on a 27-yard interception return of a Kinne pass.
Davis hit Deon Hodges with a swing pass, and he raced 24 yards down the left side with 1:29 left in the half as the Eagles clawed back after trailing 28-10.
Both teams opened the second half with turnovers on their first possession.
USM scored a touchdown or field goal on its next five possessions, but could never pull even because Tulsa scored touchdowns on its next four drives.
Quentin Pierce had four catches for 115 yards and a 67-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 49-47 with 7:41 to play. The Eagles failed on a 2-point conversion attempt as Deron Wilson was stopped just short of the goal line after taking a swing pass from Davis.