The USF football team spent 313 days waiting ? waiting for the chance to play at home again. The Bulls? wait ended Saturday with a 28-10 victory vs. North Texas (0-4) at Raymond James Stadium, making the Bulls 2-2 on the season.
“I don?t know how many people in the stands tonight were in Memphis or Chicago or Pittsburgh,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said, referring to USF?s three previous games this season. “I think (being at home) always makes it special when you can win in front of your home crowd.
“I?ve said from the beginning that this program could never have any success without the support of this community. So why wouldn?t you want to play as much as you can in front of your community?”
Junior defensive end Chris Daley said the players were excited at the prospect of thrilling their home fans.
“Coach told us that we were going to be coming out of the tunnel with smoke going everywhere,” Daley said. “You’ve got to put on a show for the crowd, and we did that.”
A fourth-and-goal play led to the first score of the game when freshman running back Clenton Crossley broke through the defensive line for a one-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
USF?s defense performed well, holding North Texas on two crucial fourth-down attempts ? most importantly, a play where sophomore linebacker Maurice Jones stripped the ball and ran 52 yards for the Bulls? second touchdown of the game.
Starting the third quarter leading 14-10, USF was able to hold a first-and-goal drive by UNT to a field goal. On the corresponding drive, the Bulls drove from their own 37-yard line to a first-and-goal situation in six plays, highlighted by an 18-yard pass to Crossley and a 24-yard pass to sophomore receiver Chris Iskra. First-and-goal from the 4-yard line became a fourth-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line, after two busted rushes and a three-yard gain from junior quarterback Marquel Blackwell.
Instead of going for a field goal, the Bulls took a chance to further their lead by going for six points. With UNT set up in a goal-line blocking stance, Blackwell took the snap and rolled left. Going one-on-one with a defender, he stiff-armed his way into the end zone.
The Bulls? final touchdown was again from Crossley ? a six-yard rush capping off a 9-play, 47-yard drive.
“I think we just had a good game plan coming in,” junior linebacker Kawika Mitchell said. “We knew they wanted to run the ball and we needed to get them out of that offense.”