Despite the heavy rain and its reputation as being the underdog, the USF football team’s passing game finally showed up, its running game was dominant and the defense was punishing.
The Bulls got their first conference win of the season Wednesday, turning a 3-point halftime deficit into a 45-20 blowout victory against UAB.
USF (3-4, 1-3 C-USA) looked impressive against one of Conference USA’s top teams in front of a national ESPN2 audience, racking up 535 yards on offense and holding one of the nation’s most explosive offenses to only 20 points. Coming in, UAB averaged 35.9 points a game.
Running back Andre Hall scored twice and shattered his own USF single-game rushing record with 275 yards on 29 carries. Hall scored on runs of 35 and 63, tying USF’s single-season rushing touchdown record of nine.
Quarterback Pat Julmiste threw his first two touchdown passes of the season and ran for his sixth as the Bulls snapped a three-game losing streak. Julmiste completed 7 of 15 passes for 186 yards.
Wednesday was the second overall meeting between the Blazers (5-3,3-2 C-USA) and the Bulls, as UAB won last year’s game 22-19 on a last-second field goal. The loss ended USF’s bid for a bowl game in 2003.
In 2004, the Bulls had their revenge.
USF went up 3-0 on a Santiago Gramatica 29-yard field goal with 12:20 left in the first quarter.
Later in the first, UAB running back Corey White got his first score of the game when he plunged over the goal line from the 1-yard line. Then, with 3:11 left in the first half, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound White scooted 29 yards for his second score of the game, putting UAB up 13-3.
On the ensuing drive, receiver Jackie Chambers caught a 38-yard touchdown strike from Julmiste. It was the true freshman’s first touchdown grab of his career.
Down 13-10 at halftime, USF emerged from the locker room and exploded, scoring 35 second-half points with big play after big play.
Down 20-17 in the third quarter, freshman safety Danny Verpaele he recovered a UAB fumble deep in Bulls territory. On USF’s offensive drive, the Bulls took the lead when Julmiste hooked up with freshman receiver Johnny Peyton on a 77-yard touchdown pass. It was the longest completion of Julmiste’s career.
Then USF ripped the walls off Legion Field in Birmingham, Al.
On UAB’s next drive, defensive back Bruce Gibson returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown, his second interception returned for a touchdown this season.
On the Bulls’ next possession, Hall made it 38-20 when he ran over a tired Blazer defense on his way to a 35-yard touchdown run with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter.
With 1:18 left in the game, Hall struck again, romping 63 yards untouched for a touchdown. It was the longest run of Hall’s career.
USF doesn’t play again until Nov. 13, when it welcomes C-USA foe East Carolina.