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USF Bulls DE Jason Pierre-Paul makes a pair of key plays against Syracuse Orange

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — DE Jason Pierre-Paul didn't start in USF's 34-20 win at Syracuse on Saturday, but came up huge with two big plays that led to 14 points in the Bulls' pivotal third quarter.

With Syracuse at the USF 21-yard line, Pierre-Paul hit Orange QB Greg Paulus as he threw, and the errant throw floated to freshman CB Kavyon Webster, who returned the interception 30 yards to set up a Mike Ford touchdown run.

Better still, on Syracuse's next drive, Pierre-Paul correctly read a screen pass to a running back and picked off the dumpoff pass, taking it 18 yards for an easy touchdown.

It's the third straight season he has scored a defensive touchdown — he did it last season at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, and before that at the College of the Canyons in California.

"Turnovers are the name of the game," defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. "If you can create turnovers, your opportunity to win increases tremendously."

USF matched two school records, for most turnovers forced (seven) and total turnovers by both teams (10).

KICKING WOES: Walk-on K Eric Schwartz continued to struggle, missing a 40-yard field goal wide left to drop to 2-for-5 on field goals this season. Schwartz also missed an extra point, USF's first miss this season. Twice, the Bulls punted inside the Syracuse 40, but P Delbert Alvarado could not get the ball downed inside the 20, settling for two touchbacks.

SURGERY: Former QB Matt Grothe, who suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee two weeks ago, will have surgery Wednesday in Tampa on his torn anterior cruciate ligament. David Leffers, USF's team physician, will perform the surgery, which typically has a timetable of six months for a full recovery.

BIG DAY: WR Carlton Mitchell's 85-yard touchdown from B.J. Daniels was the second-longest pass play in USF history, behind a 95-yard score from Marquel Blackwell to DeAndrew Rubin against Northern Illinois in 2002. Mitchell's 139 yards were a career best, and 10 short of the single-game record Clif Dell set versus Kentucky Wesleyan in 1997. Mitchell has four catches of 50 yards or longer this season; USF didn't have a pass play longer than 47 yards last year.

QUIET DAY: Senior DE George Selvie was held to two tackles and none for losses, but defensive line coach Kevin Patrick said Syracuse consistently kept extra players in to protect Paulus. "Tell me how many times they weren't in seven- or eight-man protection," Patrick said. "They doubled my ends, they chipped them and slowed them down with a back. They had a good game plan going in. … Somebody's got to come free and make something happen."

THIS AND THAT: The Bulls opened with an unusual six-man offensive line, with Jamar Bass lined up next to LT Jeremiah Warren. But USF fumbled the snap and Bass didn't play on offense again. … Syracuse outgained the Bulls 344-333, and had 23 first downs to USF's 14. … After rushing for more than 100 yards in the previous two games, Daniels had just 32 on 10 carries. … Paulus' five turnovers were more than he had in any of his last 57 games as a guard for the Duke basketball team.

USF Bulls DE Jason Pierre-Paul makes a pair of key plays against Syracuse Orange 10/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 3, 2009 8:13pm]
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