USF freshman cornerback Terrence Mitchell seems to have locked up his spot as punt returner for the Bulls, returning two punts for 94 yards.
After letting a punt bounce in the third quarter, Mitchell caught it and found a seam for a 67-yard return to the Western Kentucky 13-yard line, which led to a one-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback B.J. Daniels.
“It bounced, I caught it and had a lot of space. The whole team blocked for me. I thought I was going to take it all the way,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, a touted recruit out of Hillsborough High School, was given the job by coach Skip Holtz after the team’s first game.
After his first punt return gained 27 yards, Mitchell, recruited as a cornerback, broke free in the third quarter. Holtz called him an “electric” player.
“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Holtz said. “He’s getting better and better at catching the punts. He’s the guy that has the ability to do something with it when he gets it under his arm. He brings some big play potential. He’s a tremendous talent.
“Huge. That was one of the differences in the game, really. The punt returns set up two scores tonight.”
Mitchell also entered the game late in the fourth quarter at cornerback, registering two tackles.
Whose job is it now?
After missing first half field goals of 26 and 46 yards, kicker Eric Schwartz was replaced by Maikon Bonani, who made a 33-yard kick in the fourth quarter.
Schwartz is 1-for-4 this year kicking field goals, but Holtz said the two will continue to compete for the job in practice this week.
“It wasn’t the first two misses, it was the way the third one, the extra point – it just wasn’t clean,” Holtz said. “I brought everybody over and said, ‘Explain to me what’s going on?’ There weren’t a lot of answers, so I just said, ‘You know what, let’s just go with Bonani. We’ll turn and get back on the practice field and just try to figure it out.'”
Senior wide receiver Dontavia Bogan, who’s been limited for two weeks with an injured right ankle, didn’t dress on Saturday but practiced on Sunday … Freshman walk-on wide receiver Stephen Bravo-Brown made the first start of his career and caught one pass for 17 yards … Daniels went just 7-of-11 for 57 yards with one interception … Senior Richard Kelly scored his third career touchdown (two rushing, one receiving) on a 2-yard carry in the third quarter, which put the Bulls up 14-0 … Senior wide receiver Faron Hornes caught his first pass of the year, a 6-yard reception from Daniels … Only sophomore Evan Landi caught more than two passes for USF … Senior defensive end Craig Marshall recorded his second career interception in the fourth quarter … Sophomore middle linebacker Sam Barrington had six tackles to lead USF … It was the Hilltoppers’ 24th straight loss … Saturday’s attendance was 40,276.