South Florida kicker Maikon Bonani's comeback season continues.
After missing last season because of a back injury sustained in a fall at his summer job and beginning this fall behind Eric Schwartz on the depth chart, Bonani came through in a big way at Louisville, kicking the deciding field goal in USF's 24-21 overtime victory.
And he may have made Cardinals coach Charlie Strong pay for the mind games he played at the end of regulation in the process.
Strong twice called timeouts at the end of regulation to try to ice Bonani, who was lined up for a 52-yard try with the score tied. On the second, Bonani actually got off a successful kick, but officials had whistled the play dead before the snap. Bonani was wide left on the retry and the game went to overtime.
In the extra period, Louisville tried a fourth down gamble but failed to make the necessary yard. When Strong called timeout to get a review of the spot, which didn't change anything, he didn't have a timeout left to call when Bonani lined up for his 37-yard try on USF's overtime possession.
"Honestly I thought they still had one," Bonani said. "I failed to look up at the scoreboard and notice that they had none left. So I was nervous. I'm sure anybody would be."
Bulls coach Skip Holtz had no doubts.
"Boy, he's got confidence," Holtz said of the sophomore, who had made seven field goals in a row before the miss at the end of regulation. Like I said, he went out there in overtime and didn't bat an eye. I've talked before about the confidence he possesses when he goes out there on the field."
The victory made 6-3 USF bowl eligible for a sixth consecutive season and also kept the Bulls alive in the Big East race. They are 3-2 in conference play and are host to conference leader Pittsburgh (3-1 in the league) in their next game. The Bulls are in third place with Syracuse (4-2) sitting in second.
--With his 100-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, sophomore WR Lindsey Lamar became the first player in USF history with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a career and in one season. He had a 94-yard return for a touchdown against Syracuse on Oct. 9. His 100-yarder matches the school record set by Mike Jenkins in 2007.
--USF is now 8-0 in overtime games with two of the wins over Louisville. The Bulls beat the Cardinals in double overtime in 2003. They played their first overtime game in 1999, beating New Hampshire 42-41. They played three overtime games in 2003 (Cincinnati and East Carolina in addition to Louisville), one in 2004 (TCU), one in 2007 (Auburn), and one in 2008 (UCF).
--Redshirt freshman DE Ryne Giddens became the third defensive end to record an interception for USF this season when he picked off Louisville's Dominique Brown in the third quarter. Craig Marschall and David Bedford had interceptions earlier this season.
GAME BALL GOES TO: PK Maikon Bonani -- After being denied a chance to win the game in regulation, Bonani came back and drilled a 37-yard field goal in overtime for the deciding points. Bonani was 3-of-4 for the game with the miss a 52-yard attempt as time ran out in regulation. He had made his first try from 52 yards but Louisville had called a timeout a split second before the snap, and he was wide left on his re-kick.
KEEP AN EYE ON: FS Mark Joyce -- A true freshman, Joyce made his first career start. He was credited with three tackles in the win over Louisville.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "No, there's no such thing as an ugly win. There's winning ugly, but there's no such thing as an ugly win. Those are two different things." -- Coach Skip Holtz, after USF's overtime victory at Louisville.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: USF rushed for 172 yards with TB Demetris Murray leading the way with 107 on just 13 carries. QB B.J. Daniels was 11 of 19 passing with no interceptions and one touchdown pass. S Jerrell Young and DE Ryne Giddens both had interceptions. DE Patrick Hampton and LB Sabbath Joseph had 2.5 and 2.0 tackles-for-loss, respectively. The middle of the defensive line came through in overtime with a big stop on fourth-and-inches at the 4-yard line when Louisville decided to go for a first down rather than settle for a field goal.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Bulls converted only two of 14 third-down situations and had to settle for a field goal after having a first-and-goal at Louisville's seven-yard line in the third quarter. Daniels' 11 completions were good for only 87 yards. He was sacked twice.
--Junior DE Patrick Hampton made his second consecutive start in place of Craig Marshall, who is out with a foot injury. Hampton was in on five tackles, 2.5 of them for losses.
--RB Demetris Murray's 67-yard run against Louisville was a season long run from scrimmage for the Bulls.
--QB B.J. Daniels threw his ninth touchdown pass of the season and 23rd of his career. It helped boost him to his second 100-yard rushing game of the season (13-106).
--WR Dontavia Bogan's 48-yard touchdown catch was his fourth scoring reception of the season and 10th of his career, tying him for third all-time with Hugh Smith and R.J. Anderson in USF history.