TAMPA - A strong defensive performance from the University of South Florida football team that allowed just three points in the first half wasn’t enough as the Bulls dropped a 17-10 decision to Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium in front of a season-high crowd of 43,844.
Sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels completed 15-of-29 passes with 132 yards for the Bulls, while the USF offense was anchored by the rushing game of Mo Plancher who picked up 67 yards on 13 carries and Terrence Mitchell with 45 yards and a touchdown in the Bulls’ loss.
In the air, Dontavia Bogan, who forced several defensive penalties for Pittsburgh, led the way with 60 yards on four receptions, followed by Evan Landi with 31 yards on four receptions.
The Bulls finished with 285 yards of total offense, notching 153 on the ground and 132 in the air. On the defensive side, USF kept Pittsburgh off the scoreboard for much of the first half as the Panthers scored 14 of their 17 points in the second half.
Safetys Jerrell Young and Mistral Raymond led the defensive efforts for the Bulls with eight and seven tackles, respectively. Eight tackles was a career-high for Young.
The USF defense collected four sacks on the day, including a career first for Julius Forte, who also contributed three solo tackles in the loss.
Pittsburgh totaled 292 yards of total offense with 150 rushing and 142 passing. Tino Sunseri led the Panther offense, completing 11-of-16 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, while running back Dion Lewis added the spark in the running game with 105 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown.
Sophomore running back Ray Graham contributed on the ground and in the air for Pittsburgh with a total of 53 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown reception in the third to give the Panthers10-3 lead.
USF saw a slow-moving first half as the first stanza saw just three points scored with the only action coming from the navy blue and gold as Panthers kicker Dan Hutchins capitalized on a 36-yard field goal for a 3-0 advantage with 9:26 left in the first. Neither team would see the end zone until the second half.
Maikon Bonani responded with a 35-yard field goal at the 14:57 mark of the second quarter to knot the score at three apiece, giving the Bulls a little bit of life. A heavy defensive effort from both sides of the ball kept Pittsburgh and USF quiet as the game remained locked at 3-3 going into the break.
USF’s defense continued to put the pressure on the Panther offense as they kept them off the scoreboard for much of the third quarter. Pittsburgh struggled to find a scoring opportunity until Graham managed to sneak by the Bulls’ defense for a 12-yard touchdown pass, giving Pittsburgh a 10-3 lead.
The Bulls never gave up and continued to cover ground and work for opportunities on the offensive end. They managed to catch Pittsburgh off guard in the third as Daniels anchored a reverse play that opened a gap down field, allowing Mitchell to grab his first career touchdown with a 45-yard rush to the end zone, putting the Bulls back in the ballgame as they tied the game at 10.
With Pittsburgh holding on to a 17-10 lead going into the final 4:30 of play, the Bulls looked to their defense, which had been strong all day, allowing the Panthers to convert just 2-of-9 on third downs and leaving them 0-for-1 on fourth down conversions.
USF’s defense put in work and forced Pittsburgh to go for a 43-yard field goal with 1:31 left on the clock. The Bulls caught a break as Hutchins sailed the ball wide to the left, giving USF another opportunity and 1:31 to score. Unfortunately for the host, time ran out as the Bulls fell 17-10.
Pittsburgh ended USF’s three-game winning streak as USF drops to 6-4 on the season and 3-3 in conference action with just one conference match-up left. The Bulls will travel to Miami, Fla., on Nov 27 to battle the Hurricanes before concluding regular-season action with Connecticut on Dec. 4.
USF Football Post Game Notes
USF (6-4, 3-3 BIG EAST) vs. Pittsburgh (5-4, 4-1 BIG EAST)
Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 | Noon
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
- With today's 17-10 loss, USF's record drops to 6-4 overall and evens out at 3-3 in the BIG EAST ... It marks the second time in the past three years that the Bulls have started the season with at least a 6-4 record after 10 games, and the third time since 2003 ... USF's best 10-game start was an 8-2 ledger during 2002 season.
- Today's loss to Pittsburgh ends USF's winning streak at three games, which stood as the longest winning streak in the BIG EAST Conference.
- Today's loss to Pittsburgh drops USF's record to 3-5 all-time against the Panthers ... It is also the third straight loss to Pitt and the second consecutive setback at home.
- Today's loss drops USF's record to 101-61 all-time ... In addition; the Bulls are now 62-16 all-time at Raymond James Stadium, since moving into the venue in 1998, and 69-20 all-time at home (Tampa Stadium and Raymond James Stadium).
- Today's attendance of 43,844 marks the 18th time in the last 24 games at Raymond James Stadium - dating back to the 2007 season - that the Bulls have played in front of a home crowd of 40,000 or better ... Today's attendance is also the largest home attendance of the season.
- Today's game is the fifth-straight nationally televised contest for the Bulls, and their third appearance on ESPN2 this season ...Today's loss drops USF's record on ESPN2 to 14-8 all-time ... The setback also snaps a three-game winning streak dating back to last season.
- USF forth down attempt was the Bulls' first since the Syracuse game on Oct. 9 ... USF is 1-of-2 on fourth down conversions in BIG EAST play.
- OC Sampson Genus, S Mistral Raymond, LB Jacquian Williams and K Maikon Bonani were USF's captains for today's game against Pittsburg ... Genus, Raymond and Williams are all captains for the entire season, while Bonani is this week's weekly captain ... Today is Bonani's second time as captain this season ... He also made the walk with the season trio against Cincinnati (Oct. 22).
- Tonight's offensive starters were: SE Dontavia Bogan, LT Mark Popek, LG Jeremiah Warren, C Sampson Genus, RG Chaz Hine, RT Jacob Sims, TE Kevin Gidrey, FL Evan Landi, QB B.J. Daniels, RB Mo Plancher, FB Richard Kelly.
- Tonight's defensive starters were: LE Patrick Hampton, NT Cory Grissom, DT Terrell McClain, RE David Bedford, SLB Jacquian Williams, MLB Sam Barrington, WLB DeDe Lattimore, LC Mistral Raymond, SS Jon Lejiste, FS Jerrell Young, RC Quenton Washington.
- NT Terrell McClain recorded his third sack of the season and the 7.5 of his career with just under four minutes left in the first quarter when he took down Pittsburgh QB Tino Sunseri.
- DE Julius Forte recorded his first career sack with 14:11 left in the first half.
- WR Isaac Virgin recorded his second career catch with over four minutes left in the first half ... The catch was a 15-yard reception.
- DE Patrick Hampton recovered his first career fumble recovery in the third quarter off a Richard Kelly forced fumble ... Kelly's forced fumble is the first of his career.
- Freshman WR Terrence Mitchell scored his first career touchdown, taking a reverse option and racing 45-yards untouched into the endzone. It was just his second career carry.
- SS Jerrell Young led the team with a career-high eight tackles surpassing his previous high of seven which he had done twice.
- DE Ryne Giddins collected a sack in the fourth quarter. He now has 3.5 on the season and 4.5 for his career.