LOUISVILLE — USF sophomore Lindsey Lamar is fast enough that he's best-known by his 100-meter time — 10.3 seconds, an elite time for a sprinter. So that it took him a full 17 seconds to score on a 100-yard kickoff return — that it wasn't a straight sprint — makes it more special, as his touchdown saw him weave, break tackles, then wait for a key downfield block before finding the end zone.
"I like this one better, because of the effort of all my teammates," the Hillsborough High graduate said after USF's 24-21 overtime win. "They gave every block they could possible for me to do it."
Lamar slowed late in the runback, allowing his teammate and roommate, receiver Victor Marc, to lay a Louisville player on his back for the final block needed to spring him to the end zone.
"He's a tremendously smart young man, to have the awareness, to see Victor Marc hustling downfield," said receivers coach Phil McGeoghan, who handles USF's return units. "Your instinct as a 10.3 100-meter guy would be 'Let's get to the end zone as fast as we can,' but to know, 'Hey, I need one more block.' … Those guys play very hard together. That's all the intangibles on one play."
Lamar's touchdown was his second on a kickoff return this season — he went 94 yards in a 13-9 loss to Syracuse — and that sets a USF record while matching the Big East mark, set nine times. It matches Mike Jenkins' 2007 return against Cincinnati for the longest in Bulls history.
"It's one of the more impressive 100-yard returns you're going to see," coach Skip Holtz said. "He broke tackles, he split it, ran into the pile, cut back to his left, slowed down, let everybody catch up so he had some blockers, cut back against the grain. When you're down on the field, you can't see. How close is he to the sidelines? Did he step out? I'm looking for flags. He kept running. When he cut back inside, that was pretty. He's a special player. He is gaining more and more confidence back there."
The return came at a crucial time for USF, immediately after it had fallen behind 14-3 late in the first half. Lamar's score put the Bulls within four points, far closer than they might expect to be after just 50 yards of total offense in nearly a half.
"I think it was a huge spark and it helped our team out in a tremendous way," said Lamar, who with 616 kickoff return yards is closing on Dontavia Bogan's school season record for return yardage (770) with three games remaining in the regular season.
He's also putting himself in position for All-America honors — entering this week, only one player in Division I-A, Virginia Tech's David Wilson, had two kickoff returns for touchdowns. His new average of 30.8 yards per return should rank in the top five nationally.
But the biggest difference between this touchdown and his one against Syracuse wasn't how he got to the end zone, but what it meant to the final score. This touchdown came in a Bulls win — a hard-fought one — and that puts it well ahead of the other.
"I definitely can smile after this one," he said, "because we won."