Partly Cloudy66° FULL FORECASTPartly Cloudy66° FULL FORECAST
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)

No. 19 USF beats No. 13 Kansas 37-34

TAMPA — In a game of huge momentum swings, in a duel of prolific passers who combined for 700-plus yards, everything came down to a 19-year-old freshman kicker playing in his first college game.

Maikon Bonani, told just two days earlier he would take over as USF's kicker, calmly lined up for a 43-yard field goal with two seconds left and put it through the uprights, giving No. 19 USF a wild 37-34 victory over No. 13 Kansas on Friday before a crowd of 58,755 at Raymond James Stadium.

"Unbelievable," said Bonani, who missed his first field goal, a 41-yarder, in the second quarter but made his next three. "It's something I've never felt before. I've had kicks to tie games, but that's it. I didn't think about much. I just kicked the ball. Thank God it went in."

Bonani's kick came after USF's defense got the turnover it had waited 59 minutes for as safety Nate Allen intercepted a deep Todd Reesing pass and returned it 40 yards to the Kansas 27.

"It's a good win. That's an understatement," Bulls coach Jim Leavitt said. "We beat a very, very good football team. For Maikon to come in and drill that kick … it's something we really needed."

USF (3-0) trailed 20-3 in the second quarter then took over, scoring the next 31 points. It got another all-around effort from quarterback Matt Grothe, who finished with 338 yards and three touchdowns (two passing and one running).

Up 34-20 with 10 minutes to play, the game seemed in hand. But for the second week in a row, the defense let a 14-point fourth-quarter lead disappear.

Reesing, who finished with 373 yards on 34-of-51 passing, threw touchdowns to Johnathan Wilson and Angus Quigley to tie the score with 5:32 remaining.

Delbert Alvarado, who lost the kicking job to Bonani on Wednesday, came through with a clutch punt, downed at the Kansas 7. Three plays later, Kansas (2-1) had the ball on its 17 with less than a minute to play.

USF's coaches said afterward they couldn't believe the Jayhawks would try to win the game in regulation.

"I kept thinking … 'Just make a mistake, make a mistake,' " Leavitt said.

Reesing, who threw only seven interceptions last season, floated a deep pass that Allen caught and returned 40 yards down USF's sideline. USF ran one play, a 1-yard run by Jamar Taylor, then sent the freshman kicker out to win the game.

"I don't like to change things," Leavitt said. "But I knew it was the right thing to do. Maikon is a very good kicker."

The final flurry of points in the fourth quarter put so much in the background.

Taylor rushed for 69 yards in the third quarter, including a 13-yard touchdown. Taurus Johnson made a juggling catch on his back as he slid out of the back of the end zone, initially ruled an incompletion but reversed on replay. Grothe finished 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter, including a 37-yard touchdown to A.J. Love for a 34-20 lead.

The final minutes had a familiar sequence of collapse and redemption for the Bulls. Just a week ago, USF led Central Florida 24-10 with four minutes to play only to allow two quick touchdowns. Alvarado missed a kick with 11 seconds left. But USF won in overtime as Grothe and Johnson connected on a 25-yard touchdown and the defense made one last stop.

It's USF's fourth win in a row against ranked teams, following those against Auburn and West Virginia last season and West Virginia in 2006. All thanks to a freshman kicker who might have been headed for a redshirt until two days ago.

"He's a competitor," defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said of the Lake Wales High graduate. "I think it's ingrained in him to be a competitor to go out there with ice in his veins; in that situation, a true freshman, to kick a 43-yard field goal with two seconds left."


Florida State vs. Chattanooga

3:45, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee

Records: FSU 1-0, Chattanooga 1-1

TV/radio: ESPNU; 1470-AM

Line: None

Weather: 90 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain

No. 19 USF beats No. 13 Kansas 37-34 09/13/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 13, 2008 4:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2015 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours