Fans who watched Saturday's USF-Texas Christian thriller for four hours, only to see the broadcast abruptly cut out during the second overtime, can stop making angry calls to Ch. 28.
The horribly timed mixup had nothing to do with the local ABC affiliate but was an error in the satellite feed for the broadcast coming out of Dallas, according to USF associate athletic director Tom Veit. Viewers flooded the station with complaints and bombarded USF message boards online, comparing their outrage to the famed "Heidi Game" 30 years ago when fans missed the end of a similarly back-and-forth NFL game (Jets-Raiders) for an NBC broadcast of Heidi.
The broadcast initially had called for a four-hour window of satellite time, and when the game threatened to go beyond that window, additional satellite time was acquired. But the feed was lost for the game's exciting finish, which saw TCU botch a tying extra point to give the Bulls a 45-44 win in double overtime.
THIRD-DOWN KINGS: One week after going 2-for-13 on third downs at South Carolina, USF had its best game ever on third downs, thanks to a poised and accurate passing day from sophomore quarterback Pat Julmiste.
The Bulls converted 14-of-22, with 11 conversions coming on passes from Julmiste, who passed for 204 yards on third-down plays. The 14 conversions eclipsed the school record of 10, a mark reached three times, but most impressive were the long distances required to move the chains.
After two early third and 1s that were converted, USF almost exclusively faced third-and-long situations, with seven conversions coming on third and 10 or longer. Julmiste hit five targets for first downs, but his final seven conversions, in the heat of USF's fourth-quarter rally, were all to receivers Joe Bain and S.J. Green.
Bain, a junior from Dade City who entered the game without a catch this season, caught third-down passes of 26, 16, 13 and 53 yards, all in the second half. The last catch was a long pass down the right sideline that put USF on the TCU 1-yard line with 2:03 to play, setting up the touchdown that forced overtime.
FLAG DAY: USF set a school record with 18 penalties for 164 yards, including three personal-foul penalties for first downs on the same TCU drive in the fourth quarter. The first was a roughing the kicker call on a fourth and 28, a play Leavitt said he specifically instructed his special-teams unit not to attempt a block.
"I got the guys together, and I said, "We're going to block (for a return). Nobody rush the punter. Okay? Nobody.' "Okay, coach,' " Leavitt said.
Ensuing flags against Craig Kobel for roughing the passer and Steven Nicholas for a facemask had Leavitt fuming, even after the game, when he stopped short of questioning the officiating at a key point in the game.
"I won't even go there," Leavitt said, later calling the penalties "questionable situations."
THIS AND THAT: How big was Julmiste's game Saturday? His previous career high was 167 yards last year at Memphis. In the fourth quarter and overtime Saturday, Julmiste threw for 182 yards. His numbers up to that point weren't bad, completing 13 of 17 passes for an efficient 142 yards. The Bulls had intended to fly home immediately after Saturday's game, but Hurricane Jeanne left them confined to their Arlington hotel Sunday, with all flights into Tampa canceled. Coaches were able to evaluate game footage and begin game-week preparations with players, and the team is expected to fly into Tampa early this morning and hold its regular practice tonight.
_ GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer