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Bulls inspired by unlikely source at SMU

Redshirt freshman Auggie Sanchez’s speech fired up the offense before the game-winning touchdown drive. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

Before the Bulls took the field late in the fourth quarter for what ended up being the game-winning drive against SMU, the offense was inspired not by a veteran, but by a young linebacker.

“Before we went out on that drive, we were talking and I kept hearing this voice saying, ‘Believe in yourself, we can do this,’” coach Willie Taggart said. “I look and it’s Auggie Sanchez. I was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome. He’s a freshman and he’s out here encouraging this offense.’ I was watching our football team grow up.”

On the subsequent drive, the Bulls offense, led by sophomore quarterback Mike White, embarked on a 21-play, 75-yard drive, converting four fourth downs before senior receiver Andre Davis hauled in a back-shoulder touchdown to give USF a 14-13 win.

“Not only did we score, but also we left no time on the clock,” Taggart said. “Our offense executed and converted fourth downs. We had a lot of high-pressure situations and the guys stepped up and made plays.”

USF has relied on its youth throughout the season, with all six leading rushers as well as six of its top 11 tacklers being underclassmen.

Chop blocks 


In Saturday’s game against SMU, the Bulls were called for four chop blocks, which accounted for 60 of the Bulls’ 96 penalty yards.

“We were moving the ball and then hurt ourselves with those chop blocks,” Taggart said. “Some of them were questionable, but they were called and put us in bad situations.” 

Taggart said one of the calls happened after one of the USF linemen slipped in the wet conditions into the defender, but nonetheless the flag was thrown.

“We hadn’t had a chop block called on us all year,” Taggart said. “We’ve got to correct it; we can’t have those. It was huge. Those were 15-yard penalties that
cost us.” 

Weekly honors


Three Bulls made the AAC’s Weekly Honor Roll stretching across three sports.

College Football Player Awards selected junior punter Mattias Ciabatti as the National Punter of the Week after pinning each of his five punts inside the 20-yard line, averaging 49 yards per punt. Ciabatti was also named to the conference Honor Roll.

Sophomore forward Chris Perry was selected for the conference Honor Roll after averaging 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the basketball team’s first two wins over the weekend. Perry recorded the third double-double of his career in Sunday’s 73-64 win against Jackson State, contributing 21 points along with 10 rebounds.

Junior guard Courtney Williams led USF women’s basketball to two wins over top-50 RPI teams over the weekend in the Chattanooga Invitational. Williams averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds in the first two games of the season.


Falling short of NCAA


After its first 10-win season since 2011, the USF men’s soccer team did not receive an at large bid for the NCAA tournament.

The Bulls fell short of a repeat in the AAC championship game, losing to Tulsa 6-5 on penalty kicks Sunday.

Prior to this year, USF had made seven consecutive NCAA