TAMPA — Arguably the most bittersweet half of football in Rodney Adams' life unfolded in Friday night's driving rain.
Four days after his birthday, in his fourth game as a Bull, on fourth down, Adams had a play he'll likely remember for the next four decades.
The former Lakewood High standout, who turned 20 on Monday, hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Mike White on fourth and 10 to give USF a 14-0 first-quarter lead. It was his first collegiate touchdown.
"Every time it's man-to-man (coverage), we think touchdown," Adams said.
Adams, who transferred from Toledo after the death of his mother in an automobile accident, had two catches for 15 yards after one quarter Friday, finishing with four for 68. He had two catches (for 15 yards) for the Rockets all of last season.
But a half that started with a bang ended with a bounce — a nasty one. With the Bulls trying get into field goal range in the waning moments, White's pass deflected off Adams' numbers and into the hands of CB Byron Jones, who returned it for a 70-yard touchdown with five seconds to play.
"I just took my eye off the ball; bad concentration," Adams said. "But you have to forget about it. I had to have amnesia; make plays in the second half."
CIABATTI SHINES: USF's Mattias Ciabatti averaged 41.3 yards on six punts, pinning five inside the 20.
He had a 61-yarder in the fourth, but his shining moment came in the second. He hauled down a high snap near midfield and delivered a punt that landed near the goal line and — thanks to some backspin — bounced back to the Huskies 5.
"The kid was unbelievable," coach Willie Taggart said. "He punted the ball like it was dry."
ATTERBURY COMMITS: Clearwater Central Catholic 290-pound OT Billy Atterbury, whose team was idle Friday, announced his oral commitment to the Bulls via Twitter, about an hour before USF kicked off. Deemed a three-star prospect by 247sports.com, Atterbury is believed to be the Bulls' 11th nonbinding commitment from the Class of 2015. According to his Twitter profile, he has 12 Division I-A offers.
AUDIBLE: "I was like 'All right, it's my left hand. I'm not really mobile in this hand.' It might be a penalty, but I'd rather him fall and get a penalty than score. I mean, by any means, find a way." — White, who tried a sliding tackle of Jones, instead of risking harm to his fractured left forearm on the interception return.
ODDS AND ENDS: UConn attempted only two passes in the first half, completing neither. It finished 6-of-10 for 88 yards. … Bulls WR Andre Davis (bruised sternum) missed his third consecutive game. … The USF Stampede — the team procession from its bus in the south end zone parking area into the stadium — was called off due to the rain. … UConn WR Geremy Davis' 32-yard touchdown catch with 79 seconds to play extended his streak of games with a catch to 30.