Bulls Overcome Early Mistakes, Beat FIU

In the beginning it seemed like everything that could go wrong did, but USF showed up in the second half looking like a much improved football team and defeated Florida International 21-20. For the second week in a row, the Bulls were haunted by costly penalties which could have easily been avoided. The first ever meeting between the two schools came down to who performed better on special teams.

For South Florida, this was the one thing that they had hoped would not happen. Chandler Williams was able to draw blood early on in the first quarter. After USF stalled on their opening drive, Delbert Alverado nailed a 35 yard punt which Chandler Williams returned 82 yards for the opening points of the ballgame. It was the first punt returned for a touchdown against USF since August 30, 2003.

Problems occurred with the extra point and the end result was a missed kick by Chris Patullo. This put the Bulls down by six but proved to be the difference between a win and a loss by the end of the game. For the second week in a row the Panthers found themselves on the losing end of a hard fought game because of a missed extra point. Ean Randolph did everything within his power to give the Bulls' a comfortable lead in the first half. The first time he got his hands on the ball, he tried to put on a show for the 27,114 fans who showed up at Raymond James Stadium. After splitting two defenders who then crashed into each other, Randolph had a straight shot to the end zone. Then the flags were thrown on a personal foul on a completely useless block below the waist by Mike Jenkins. Three plays later, the Bulls had to settle for a field goal which was abruptly missed by Mike Benzer who is now 0-5 for his career.

On the following play, Trae Williams ran a better route then the receiver and ended up in the perfect place for the interception. After another stop by the defense, Randolph returned the punt for a 76 yard touchdown to give the Bulls their first lead of the game. This was his first career touchdown and the second longest in USF history. Later in the game, Randolph returned another punt for a touchdown, which was once again waived off because of personal fouls called on the Bulls. For the game, Randolph caught two passes for nine yards and returned 2 punts for 123 yards and one touchdown. This does not include the two punt returns that were called back.

The defense for the Bulls were stingy all game long and allowed the Golden Panthers only one offensive touchdown, a 3 yard pass to Samuel Smith. Althought they allowed 238 passing yards, they gave up only 24 yards off of 31 rushes. George Selvie was the standout performer with nine tackles including five for a loss and two sacks while Ben Moffitt recorded eight tackles on his own. The Bulls were able to pull within six off of an impressive 14 yard run by Taurus Johnson, the first of his career. This put the defense in the perfect position to take over the game. The key play came early on in the fourth quarter with the Bulls trailing 20-14. On a fourth and one, FIU attempted a quarterback sneak but was abruptly stopped at the line of scrimmage by Ben Moffitt.

On the Owls next possession, they positioned themselves at the 26 yard line for a field goal attempt that would have increased the lead to nine. A costly delay of game penalty was called which caused FIU to punt instead of try for points. After the following two drives by the Bulls stalled due to an interception thrown by Grothe and a failed fouth down conversion, the Owls were in the perfect position to win the game. T hen the unthinkable happened.

With under three minutes remaining in the game, Ben Moffitt forced Julian Reams to fumble which was recovered by Richard Clebert at the 29 yard line. Two plays later, Grothe, under great protection from his line, hit Taurus Johnson for a 29 yard touchdown pass with 2:33 left. Grothe perfectly placed the pass to Johnson in between the linebackers and the defensive backs as he beat the safety to the corner of the end zone. Grothe finished 15 of 28 while throwing for 174 yards including one touchdown and rushing for 82 yards on 16 carries. He seemed to have great protection all game from an offensive line who did not allow one sack. In fact Antwan Barnes, arguably the most hyped player on the defense of FIU was completely shut down and was kept out of the backfield all day long.

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