Bulls come from behind to top high-powered Tech

by Gary Shelton on September 9, 2018 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, USF

Horne returns for his first touchdown./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 4 a.m.

When the smoke had cleared, when someone had finally turned off the scoreboard before it exploded, when the yardage had been chewed up by the acre, there was one question to ask about USF's latest football game.

Horne makes a cut on his second touchdown return./JEFFREY S. KING

How in the world did the Bulls win this one?

For so long, USF's defenders had played chase -- unsuccessfully. For most of the day, they were lining up to face extra points. Georgia Tech was running a shell game on offense, daring the Bulls to find the ball and do something about it.

Georgia Tech had 602 yards on the day. They had 419 yards rushing. They kept the ball more than 11 minutes longer than the Bulls.  They averaged 10.2 yards per pass and 7.4 yards per rush.

Horne returned five kicks for 264 yards./JEFFREY S. KING

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Blake Barnett had more than 100 yards rushing./JEFFREY S. KING

And somehow, they lost.

It is staggering to think that a football team could lose after gaining six fields, but it did. USF came from 10 points down in the final period to beat the Yellow Jackets. USF didn't make many plays on defense, but they made two. Linebacker Nico Sawtelle recovered a fumble (forced by Bentlee Sanders) at the 15 as Tech appeared to be going in to pad a 38-35 lead with 7:47 to play. Then, after USF had taken a 42-35 lead, Sawtelle intercepted a pass (forced when Kirk Livingstone hit the arm of Tech quarterback Taquan Marshall) at the Tech 40.

McCants caught 10 passes for 99 yards./JEFFREY S. KING

Yeah, that's how you win a game like this.

You get two key turnovers.

You get two touchdown runs in the final period by quarterback Blake Barnett.

You get two kickoff returns for touchdowns (98 and 97 yards) by Terrence Horne.

You get 10 catches for 99 yards from Tyre McCants. You get a defense that hangs on and makes the big play. You get just enough offense and barely enough defense and hold on for a 49-38 victory.

“I love their resiliency," said USF head coach Charlie Strong. "They just battle.  This is a special team . For us to come together and play against a really good football team and a  really unique football team ... that is what is special about this team.

Saloman signals "six" after a touchdown./JEFFREY S. KING

For so long, the biggest question of the day was how the Bulls, with their defense, would fare the rest of the season. Tech moved the ball with silly ease. But Georgia Tech stopped itself with 88 yards of penalties and three turnovers.

"This team has got a unique bond to it right now," Strong said. "This team knows  how to battle. We have to keep it together and guys not get full of themselves and there is no telling what we can do here."

Barnett wasn't as sharp as he was the first week -- Elon leaves wider slots to

Sawtelle, who had two turnovers late, stops Tobias Oliver./JEFFREY S. KING

throw into than Georgia Tech -- but he was efficient enough, and he made a living with his legs. Barnett threw for 202 yards and ran for  102 more.

"I left some points out there last week, and I did this week, too," Barnett said. "I'm not satisfied. But it was a big team win."

Strong said he had never won a game where he gave up so many yards.

"I told them (the team) that this game is going to be about mental toughness,: Strong said. "It’s going to be assignment football on defense — and they got some plays because that’s what they are. We weren't playing off blocks well and they got the ball to the perimeter. If we’re patient, we’ll get out some throws and we'll and get some runs and we’ll outlast. At the end of the day, we got to have one more point than what they have."

The Bulls, 2-0 and flirting with the back end of the rankings, now go on the road to play Illinois next Saturday in Chicago. The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m.

Sanders forces fumble to stop Georgia Tech./JEFFREY S. KING

 

 

 

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