HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (Ticker) -- Derrick Nix fell just short of the school's career rushing record but carried 32 times for 139 yards and a touchdown as Southern Mississippi ended its regular season with a 24-7 victory over East Carolina.
Nix needed 150 yards to break the mark set by Ben Garry. He should get one more shot after helping the Golden Eagles (7-5, 5-3 Conference USA) clinch its ninth straight winning season under coach Jeff Bower.
Mickey D'Angelo completed 12-of-22 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown with an interception for Southern Mississippi, which has won 21 of the last 28 games in the series.
A seven-yard run by Dustin Almond with 4:18 to go in the first quarter put the Golden Eagles ahead for good, 7-0. D'Angelo doubled the lead 4 1/2 minutes before halftime with a 15-yard touchdown toss to Chris Johnson.
Curt Jones' 24-yard field goal was the only scoring in the third quarter and Nix went in from the 4-yard line early in the fourth to extend Southern Miss' lead to 24-0.
East Carolina did not reach the end zone until safety Kelly Hardy returned a fumble 82 yards with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. The Pirates (4-7, 4-3) were without injured leading rusher Art Brown and struggled offensively, managing just 10 first downs and 154 total yards.
The loss ended East Carolina's hopes for a bowl bid and the Conference USA title.