Daniels' 3 TDs edge Landi despite rally
TAMPA -- USF's spring game was expected to be a battle of two freshman quarterbacks, and B.J. Daniels and Evan Landi more than obliged.
Daniels threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third score, but it was Landi, down 21-14, who drove the White team 88 yards in the final 2:13 for his second touchdown pass as time expired. Going for two and the win, Landi's pass to receiver Theo Wilson was high and Green held on for a 21-20 win.
"That was an exciting game, as exciting in spring as you'll maybe ever see," coach Jim Leavitt said. "Across the country, I don't know if they'll be any as exciting as that."
Both Daniels and Landi threw long passes on scoring drives on their first possessions. Daniels hit receiver Dontavia Bogan for a 55-yard pass on the game's second play and followed that two plays later with a 1-yard touchdown. Landi, taking over for senior Matt Grothe after two possessions, completed his first three passes, including a 55-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman Daniel Bryant to tie the game at 7-7.
Daniels and Bogan would hook up for a long score late in the third quarter -- two plays after a 56-yard score was wiped out by a penalty, Daniels threw a pass that was tipped by walk-on cornerback Chris Lane into the hands of Bogan, who got a 46-yard touchdown for the game's winning margin.
"I thought both freshman quarterbacks did a real good job," Leavitt said. "They competed so well, and I was really proud of that."
Landi showed surprising poise on the final drive, starting on his own 12-yard line with 2:13 to play. He completed three passes to get to midfield, then found receiver Carlton Mitchell for a 19-yard pass. With 22 seconds left, he took off on a 17-yard scramble, getting stopped at the 6-yard line with 10 seconds to play.
After a spike and an incompletion, Landi got a touchdown as time expired, firing a pass across the middle to a diving Colby Erskin, prompting Landi to a leaping chest-bump with Grothe, who ran in from the sidelines.
TAKING IT ALL THE WAY
Daniels was closing in on another potential score when he attempted a pass to Bogan, but sophomore cornerback Quenton Washington jumped the route and intercepted the throw, taking it 95 yards for the touchdown. Daniels and Bogan both had a chance to make a tackle at midfield, but Washington juked them both to tie the game at 14-14 -- more points in one half than in the previous two spring games combined.
"What a great play he made -- we may have to move him to running back or receiver, because of what he did with the ball," Leavitt said.
Senior Chris Robinson, penciled in as the starting strongside linebacker, had a strong game on defense, making a leaping interception on a trick play when receiver Wilson took a lateral from Landi and attempted a deep pass to Mitchell. Robinson came through with another big play, breaking up a pass when the White team went for it on fourth-and-5 near midfield early in the fourth quarter.
CAMEOS FOR STARS
All-American defensive end George Selvie was held out of the game as a precaution to avoid injuries, and Grothe didn't get much more playing time than that. Grothe played the first two series, completing his first three passes, but his opening drive stalled in the red zone and came up empty when walk-on kicker Eric Schwartz missed a 34-yard field goal. Grothe's second series was a three-and-out, with his last play whistled on what would have been a sack by defensive tackle Aaron Harris.