A pair of seniors on both sides of the ball led the University of South Florida to a 28-27 win over Rutgers on Wednesday night, helping the school to its 100th win in program history.
USF (5-3, 2-2) needs one more win to become bowl eligible and is back in the race for the Big East title that appears to have no clear favorite.
“I’m really, really proud of that football team. Our seniors had never beaten Rutgers, and we always say that in order to be a really good football team, our seniors have to have the best season of their career,” coach Skip Holtz said. “(Running back) Mo Plancher did that tonight. (Linebacker) Jacquain Williams on defense did that tonight. There are some seniors that really led the charge for us.”
Plancher led the way offensively with 180 all-purpose yards, including a career-high 135 yards rushing on 21 carries. Plancher also caught three passes for 45 yards.
“This means a lot. The coach believed in me and put the ball in my hands, and the offensive line did an amazing job,” Plancher said.
Williams led the defensive charge with 11 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. It was Williams’ sack on fourth-and-3 near midfield that gave USF the ball back with less than four minutes remaining and a chance to kill the clock.
“He was all over the field,” Holtz said. “I can talk about every player individually, but Jacquian Williams is my hero.”
USF opened the scoring with a completion on third-and-goal from the Rutgers’ 6-yard line to give the Bulls a 7-0 lead with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter. Quarterback B.J. Daniels rolled out to his left before finding sophomore receiver Evan Landi five yards deep in the end zone.
Rutgers (4-4, 1-2) responded with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Mason Robinson to tie the score 7-7 at the 1:44 mark in the first quarter. The Scarlet Knights then took a 10-7 lead after a 25-yard field goal by San San Te early in the second quarter.
Daniels went 10-of-17 for 149 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 15 yards.
“Our backs were kind of against the wall, but we were just trying to have a good time and relax,” Daniels said. “We’re not going to give up no matter what, so this was a nice win for us.”
USF’s go-ahead score came with 9:33 remaining after Plancher fumbled into the end zone. Offensive lineman Jacob Sims pounced on the ball, giving USF a 28-27 lead that it would not surrender.
USF travels to Louisville for a noon kickoff against the Cardinals on Nov. 13 in its final conference road trip of the season.