Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Blocked punt briefly sparks USF Bulls

Big TD: FSU linebacker Christian Jones, front, celebrates his 12-yard fumble return for a score.

Getty Images

Big TD: FSU linebacker Christian Jones, front, celebrates his 12-yard fumble return for a score.

TAMPA — The loudest a sellout crowd got in support of USF on Saturday night and the closest it came to catching Florida State came early in the second half, when the defense forced a three-and-out and freshman LB Tashon Whitehurst came flying in to block a punt.

"I was really just trying to go out for my seniors; to fight as hard as I can," said Whitehurst, who went to high school in Gainesville. "When I made the block, I was just so excited. I tried to pick it up. I love my seniors. The boys have great heart."

Whitehurst recovered the loose ball, and USF started at the FSU 8. QB B.J. Daniels ran in for a touchdown to cut the FSU lead to 13-10, and Whitehurst's play ignited the sellout crowd, though the Bulls failed to capitalize on the momentum.

"That blocked punt was a great individual effort by Tashon White­hurst," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "It certainly gave our football team some energy on that sideline."

FSU hadn't had a punt blocked since Oct. 31, 2009, against N.C. State.

BIG SHOWING: USF announced the attendance at 69,383, about 2,000 more than any of its four previous sellouts. Fans bought up 500 standing-room only tickets on Friday just to watch from the south end zone plaza.

"It was fun; a lot of people yelling," Bulls RB Demetris Murray said. "You really couldn't tell who they were yelling for, but I enjoyed it."

The 69,383 number represented tickets distributed. The actual attendance, according to the Tampa Sports Authority, was 58,808.

HUMBLE HOMECOMING: Three autumns after leading Plant High to a Class 5A state title, TB James Wilder led the Seminoles from the visitors tunnel Saturday.

He wasn't especially conspicuous after that. Wilder (five carries, 8 yards) had a shot at a second-quarter touchdown but was stuffed for a 2-yard loss on second and goal from the 1. The Seminoles settled for a field goal.

"It was very disappointing," said Wilder, who also caught two passes for 3 yards.

"It happens to everybody; even the best of the best. They don't get it in all the time."

Collectively, FSU's bay area-based contingent was barely visible. WR Christian Green (Tampa Catholic) was shut out while junior DT Demonte McAllister (Alonso) had one tackle.

CALL HIM RE-PETE: FSU sophomore WR Rashad Greene, who scored on a 10-yard end-around in the first quarter, now has touchdowns via punt return (twice), reception and run this season. No Seminole has done that since Peter Warrick (eight receiving, three rushing, one punt return) in 1999.

ODDS AND ENDS: USF sophomore LB Reshard Cliett got his first career start but left early with a lower-leg injury. His status was unknown. … USF's defense totaled 10 tackles for loss, more than it had in its previous two games, both losses, combined. … The Bulls have gone five games without an interception. … FSU now is 5-0 against in-state schools under coach Jimbo Fisher. … FSU senior WR Rodney Smith (three catches, 19 yards) extended his streak of games with at least one catch to 30.

Blocked punt briefly sparks USF Bulls 09/29/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 29, 2012 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Want elite college football athletes? Recruit Tampa Bay


    Now that college football watch list season is over (I think), here's one takeaway you probably already knew: Tampa Bay produces a lot of great athletes.

    Robinson High produuct Byron Pringle has gone from this performance in a high school all-star game to all-Big 12 at Kansas State.
  2. 'Ready to win, and win big:' Dick Vitale sees Bucs going 10-6


    ESPN's Dick Vitale, whose love and optimism for Tampa Bay sports teams goes far beyond basketball, has high hopes for the Bucs in 2017.

    ESPN's Dick Vitale, shown at One Buc Place last year when he announced a Bucs draft pick, has high hopes for Tampa Bay this fall, predicting a 10-6 record for the Bucs.
  3. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Jake Faria had his lucky rubber duck — OG, the original one he has had since high school — with him, and the Rays had nothing to worry about as he put his rocky Wednesday outing well behind him, working into the eighth while scattering seven hits.