Taylor Jenkins

South Florida's Players of the Game: "The War on I-4"

Today’s game between USF and UCF was their first meeting as a part of the official “War on I-4” rivalry. The Bulls pulled away late for a 48-31 victory, with Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack both running for over one hundred yards, while the defense allowed just 64 rushing yards on 35 attempts and forced three turnovers.

Offensive Player of the Game

While Quinton Flowers made a strong argument for offensive player of the game, it is running back Marlon Mack who gets the honors. Mack carried the ball 20 times for 155 yards and found the end zone twice.

His two touchdowns came from 43 and 56 yards out, but he earns player of the game for the timing of his runs as much as the distance of them. His first touchdown came halfway through the first quarter with the Bulls trailing by a touchdown. The score tied the game, and the Bulls wouldn’t trail again.

His second came in the second quarter with the Bulls leading 17-7, and it opened the floodgates for the USF offense to take control. On that score, USF would take a 24-7 lead and hold on to it, despite the Knights closing the gap to just seven with five minutes left in the third quarter.

Defensive Player of the Game

For the Bulls, the defensive player of the game was their captain, junior linebacker Auggie Sanchez. Sanchez has long been the leader and backbone of a USF defense that’s really begun to come out of their shell late this season.

Sanchez ranked second in the game with nine total tackles, five of them solo, but made his biggest play of the game late in the fourth quarter. With UCF pushing to get back into a game that was quickly getting away, Sanchez intercepted a pass that was tipped by defensive end Mike Love and returned it 19 yards, back into the UCF red zone. After the game, Sanchez was asked about when he hauled in his last interception. He answered, saying his last interception was his freshman year, and jokingly added, “I’ve missed about five this year.”

Sanchez leads the Bulls in total tackles, and with his nine today, has passed 100 tackles on the season. In Sanchez’s sophomore season, he found his way into the USF record books, falling second all-time with 117 tackles. With at least one game left this season, look for Sanchez to improve on that number, and with another year of eligibility, the sky is the limit for the talented defensive player.

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