HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (Ticker) -- Safety Etric Pruitt returned an interception 44 yards for a score to snap a fourth-quarter tie as Southern Mississippi shut down Cincinnati's passing attack en route to a 23-14 victory
With the game tied at 14-14, Pruitt intercepted Gino Guidugli and went the distance for the decisive score, helping Southern Mississippi (5-2, 3-0) remain unbeaten in Conference USA play.
Guidugli was sacked in the end zone for a safety with 2:47 left, sealing Cincinnati's third straight loss. The Bearcats (2-5, 1-2) also fell to 6-6 in the all-time series.
Cincinnati held a 409-211 advantage in total yardage but committed the game's only two turnovers and never got one of the nation's best passing attacks untracked.
Guidugli entered the week ninth in the nation with 299.3 yards per game but completed just 12-of-27 for 143 yards. LaDaris Vann, Jon Olinger and Tye Keith - the top three receivers in the conference - were held to eight catches for 89 yards.
DeMarco McCleskey did the damage on the ground for Cincinnati, picking up 135 yards on 29 carries.
The only time the Eagles trailed was following Jonathan Ruffin's 22-yard field goal with 6:02 left in the first quarter. Derrick Nix scored from seven yards two minutes later to give Southern Mississippi a 7-3 lead.
Ruffin added another short field goal in the first minute of the second quarter, but Guidugli fumbled on Cincinnati's second possession of the third and Dustin Almond needed only two plays to find Marvin Young for a six-yard TD.
McCleskey found the end zone from nine yards on the final play of the third quarter and George Murray ran in for the two-point conversion as the Bearcats tied it at 14-14.
Vann set a school record for career receiving yardage (2,315), picking up 63 on six catches.