Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls return to form in beating West Virginia Mountaineers 30-19

TAMPA — All of the traditional demons of USF's recent midseason struggles were nowhere to be found Friday against No. 20 West Virginia.

Turnovers? The Bulls committed none. Penalties? The Bulls had just 21 yards on five. Field-goal woes? Walk-on Eric Schwartz went 3-for-3, including a 44-yarder in the fourth.

B.J. Daniels passed with patience and poise, hitting three touchdowns and rushing for 104 yards in leading the Bulls to a 30-19 win, their third over the Mountaineers in four years.

As awful as the Bulls (6-2, 2-2 Big East) looked six days earlier in a 41-14 loss at Pittsburgh, they played some of their best football, moving the chains consistently and keeping West Virginia (6-2, 2-1) and star running back Noel Devine in check defensively.

"They played so much better than we did the last few weeks," coach Jim Leavitt said. "I was really happy with the defensive secondary."

Just as Pittsburgh marched 80 yards on its first drive last week, USF's defense gave up an 80-yard drive for a touchdown on the game's first series.

This time, the offense answered right back, with Daniels hitting receiver Carlton Mitchell for a 49-yard touchdown after running back Mo Plancher converted a fourth and 1 at midfield.

The defense stepped up, too. After the initial drive, the Bulls held West Virginia to just 91 yards on its remaining six drives of the half, which netted only a field goal. Overall, Devine had 42 yards on 17 carries, the first time he had fewer than 80 in nine games.

"We were on the same page; 11 as one, flying all over the field," said linebacker Chris Robinson, who had six tackles. "This game proved we're back to where we were the week we played Florida State. We need to carry that the rest of the season, and we'll be all right."

West Virginia cut USF's lead to 10-9 when a punt was pinned at the 2 and running back Jamar Taylor was stopped in the end zone for a safety. Again, the Bulls offense came up with a big play, Daniels and Mitchell hooking up for a 69-yard gain to the 9. Three plays later, Daniels hit A.J. Love from 11 yards for the touchdown.

West Virginia scored on its first drive of the second half, too, an 11-yard run by quarterback Jarrett Brown, cutting USF's lead to 20-19. Again, the Bulls answered on offense, with Plancher getting a 28-yard run to the 12. On third down from the 6, Daniels hit freshman Sterling Griffin for a touchdown and a 27-19 lead.

The Bulls continued to be aggressive on offense, going for it on fourth and 1 from their 41 and converting on Daniels' keeper. On the ensuing third and 5, Daniels, who threw for 232 yards, scrambled for 23 yards, setting up a 44-yard field goal by Schwartz.

A Raymond James Stadium crowd announced at 56,328 cheered as the Bulls kept alive a streak of not losing consecutive home games since joining the Big East in 2005. West Virginia's last hopes of rallying ended when Brown's pass on fourth and 28 went incomplete with 3:27 to play.

West Virginia was the third consecutive ranked opponent for the Bulls, a first in school history. USF faced the possibility of losing a third straight after a 5-0 start had them ranked No. 21.

"Everybody thinks we have the three-game slump every year where we lose three in a row," Robinson said. "I'm just glad we changed that up."

Times staff writer Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. See his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf and follow him at twitter.com/gregauman.

USF Bulls return to form in beating West Virginia Mountaineers 30-19 10/30/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 12:54am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

    Blogs

    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  2. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games

    Blogs

    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.
  3. RHP Alex Cobb feeling safer as Rays make playoff push

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing in the fourth inning of the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla. on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
  4. HomeTeam 100: Players 61-70

    Footballpreps

    Jefferson wide receiver Dontavius Smith during the game between Jefferson High School and Jesuit High School at Jesuit on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, in Tampa, Fla.
  5. A second chance at life, away from the game he loved

    The Heater

    Dylan Delso, a catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays' Gulf Coast League team, displays his scar at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. On June 25, 2016 Delso fell backward down a flight of stairs, suffering a nearly fatal head injury that put him in a coma for eight days. He's finally back on the baseball field after a miraculous recovery.