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Maikon Bonani subs for ineffective Eric Schwartz at kicker for USF Bulls

Bulls kicker Maikon Bonani looks skyward after making a field goal in the fourth quarter, his first in nearly two years. Bonani missed because of injuries sustained in a fall while working a summer job at Busch Gardens.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Bulls kicker Maikon Bonani looks skyward after making a field goal in the fourth quarter, his first in nearly two years. Bonani missed because of injuries sustained in a fall while working a summer job at Busch Gardens.

TAMPA — On a night when neither team could make a field goal, USF found itself with a change at placekicker after senior Eric Schwartz missed his first two attempts. Sophomore Maikon Bonani stepped in and hit a 33-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Coach Skip Holtz stopped short of saying Bonani is his new kicker, saying the job will be decided in practice this week. But Holtz actually made the change after a made kick, saying he didn't like Schwartz's wobbly extra point after the Bulls' second touchdown.

"It just wasn't clean, and I brought everybody over and said, 'Explain to me what's going on. Tell me what the problem is so we can fix it.' There weren't a lot of answers," Holtz said. "So I just said, 'You know what, let's go with Bonani. We'll get back on the practice field and try to figure it out.' Bonani did a nice job. He made the one by at least that much (holding two fingers up, an inch apart)."

Bonani, attempting his first field goal since 2008, connected after a rough night by Schwartz, who missed a 26-yarder wide in the first quarter. Another attempt from 46 yards came up short, and Bonani took over extra points after USF's third touchdown in the third quarter.

Schwartz, who entered the game with one field goal in two attempts, was the starter last season and had beaten out Bonani after the two battled throughout the preseason.

Bonani, who has handled USF's kickoffs this season, was the Bulls' starter in 2008 and missed last season after injuring his back in a 30-foot fall while working at Busch Gardens the previous summer.

Western Kentucky had it worse than USF on field goals Saturday, missing its first three attempts, plus its first extra point after scoring in the fourth quarter.

HELD IN CHECK: RB Bobby Rainey came in having gone over 100 yards in each of WKU's first three losses, ranking him fifth nationally with 444 rushing yards. But USF's defense kept him under control — he was held to 64 rushing yards on 21 carries.

"We prepared really hard to stop the run this week," defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. "We said if we held this kid under 100, that was a great day. We knew he was going to get his touches. I'll take that."

YES, THAT WAS HIM: When WKU pulled within 24-12 with 3:46 to play, QB B.J. Daniels was on the field as part of the "hands team" to field the onside kick, recovering the kick to give USF the ball.

"I always mess with my coaches and tell them I have the best hands. They stuck me out there and it just happened to bounce my way," he said. "It felt weird; I've never hit the field at a different position before. (My teammates) were just hoping they wouldn't kick it to me because they'd try to kill me."

THIS AND THAT: Freshman walk-on Stephen Bravo-Brown got his first career start at receiver in place of injured senior Dontavia Bogan, who sprained his ankle in the Florida loss. Bravo-Brown had a 17-yard catch on a third down in the third quarter. … P Justin Brockhaus-Kann, who had a 56-yard punt downed on the 1-yard line, was the game's special-teams captain for the coin toss.

Maikon Bonani subs for ineffective Eric Schwartz at kicker for USF Bulls 09/25/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 25, 2010 11:57pm]
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