BIRMINGHAM, DEC. 28 -- Terry Jordan ran for a score and passed for one and Greg Manior ran 41 yards for a late touchdown, but it took a late defensive stand to assure North Carolina State's 31-27 victory over Southern Mississippi in the All American Bowl tonight.
Jordan scored on a 10-yard run and passed 12 yards to Bobby Jurgens as N.C. State (7-5) ruined the coaching debut of Jeff Bower, who took over at Southern Mississippi (8-4) when Curley Hallman left after the regular season to accept the Louisiana State job.
N.C. State was leading 24-21 when linebacker David Merritt intercepted a Southern Mississippi pass with just more than six minutes left. Manior scored on the next play to make it 31-21.
Brett Favre, who passed for 341 yards, drove the Golden Eagles 86 yards for a final touchdown, with a five-yard run by Michael Welch cutting the N.C. State lead to four. Southern Mississippi had two chances at a two-point conversion, getting a second shot after an N.C. State penalty, but failed on both.
It proved to be a crucial failing when, with time running down, Favre drove the Golden Eagles to the N.C. State 20. With Southern Mississippi forced because of the failed conversion to try for a touchdown instead of a field goal, Favre was sacked by N.C. State's Mark Thomas as time expired.
Jordan, who took over the starting quarterback job in the Wolfpack's sixth game, passed for 166 yards.
The teams entered the game with excellent defensive statistics but from the opening play the game was an offensive show.
Favre hit Michael Jackson on a 46-yard pass on the first play but the drive stalled at the 11 and Jim Taylor missed a 29-yard field goal attempt.
On Southern's next possession, Favre passed 52 yards to Jackson to again get Southern Miss to the 11. Two plays later, Favre hit Mark Montgomery with a 10-yard scoring pass for a 6-0 lead. Taylor missed the extra point.
Jordan then took N.C. State 65 yards in seven plays, scoring himself from the 10 for a 7-6 lead. Jordan completed passes of 6, 12 and 20 yards during the drive.
Tony Smith fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Greg Giannamore recovered for the Wolfpack at the Southern Mississippi 25. Gary Downs ran the last two yards for the touchdown that made it 14-6.
Southern came back with a 69-yard drive featuring Favre passes of 35 and 13 yards to Montgomery, the latter for a touchdown. Favre's conversion pass to Welch tied the game at 14.
Late in the first half, Smith fumbled a punt and Giannamore recovered for N.C. State at the 23. The Wolfpack got a first down at the 2 after a pass interference penalty, but Southern stiffened and N.C. State settled for Mark Fowble's 22-yard field goal.
Southern Mississippi went ahead 21-17 early in the third quarter on a one-yard run by Smith after Pat Wynn blocked a Wolfpack punt out of bounds at the 1.