TAMPA – The University of South Florida rallied from 10 points down to tie the game at 16, but Connecticut answered with a 52-yard field goal from Dave Teggart to give the Huskies a 19-16 win over the Bulls Saturday night in front of 41,809 at Raymond James Stadium in the Bulls’ regular-season finale.
With the win, the Huskies claimed the BIG EAST title with a game-winning field goal at the 17-second mark of the final stanza. USF dropped to 7-5 on the season, while the Huskies improved to 8-4 and secured a spot in a BCS bowl.
Prior to kick-off, USF honored its 19 seniors for their contributions and dedication to the Bulls’ football program. The 2010 senior class has posted a 32-19 overall record, which ties them with the 2008 class for the second-most victories by a senior class in USF history.
True freshman quarterback Bobby Eveld celebrated his 19th birthday with the first start of his young USF career. The walk-on from Tampa, Fla. completed 22-of-41 passes for 195 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, while rushing for 29 yards.
Anchoring the USF offense was senior wide receiver Dontavia Bogan, who closed out his final home game with seven receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. Fellow senior tight end Kevin Gidrey finished the night with three grabs for 43 yards. Wide receiver Evan Landi contributed significantly on offense as well with four catches for 40 yards in the loss.
Doing the work on the ground for the Bulls was the running duo of Mo Plancher and Demetris Murray, who rushed for 59 and 48 yards, respectively. Plancher, another senior for the Bulls, had a total of 15 carries in his final home game as a Bull, while Murray, Eveld and Bogan combined for 15 carries.
Defensively, USF was led by senior Jacquian Williams with seven tackles, including three for a loss. He was assisted by DeDe Lattimore with seven tackles and Quenton Washington with six. Senior Terrell McClain also added to the defensive stat line with five total tackles.
Sophomore safety Jon Lejiste made a significant impact on defense, earning his first career interception when he intercepted a Zach Frazer pass and returned it for 42 yards to the USF 49-yard line .
USF finished the night with 333 yards of total offense, including 195 in the air and 138 on the ground. They outnumbered the Huskies, 333-232, in that category. The Bulls were 6-of-16 on third down conversions and were 3-for-3 in the red zone. The defense forced a fumble and an interception.
The Bulls got on the scoreboard with a pair of field goals from sophomore kicker Maikon Bonani, who hit a 42-yard attempt at the 10:17 mark of the first quarter, giving USF its only lead of the game, and a 38-yarder at the 2:49 mark of the third.
Going into intermission, the Huskies held a 10-3 lead as the Bulls looked to regroup and find their momentum. Coming out of the locker room, the Bulls showed a little more fire and determination as they looked to continue their streak of being the comeback kids. They hit a field goal in the third to get within 10 as UConn held a 16-6 advantage going into the final 15 minutes of play.
USF scored its first touchdown of the game at the 8:38 mark of the fourth quarter. Senior Craig Marshall forced a UConn fumble at the 9:22 mark with Sam Barrington recovering, which set up a 28-yard reception to Bogan from Eveld for the Bulls’ score, putting USF within three, 16-13.
The forced fumble was the first of the season for Marshall, while Barrington picked up his first career fumble recovery. Bogan’s 28-yard touchdown reception was the 11th of his career, moving him into sole possession of third on USF's all-time list.
The Bulls weren’t done yet. Bonani came through once more with 1:16 left in regulation as he sailed a 22-yard field goal through the uprights, deadlocking the game at 16 apiece.
UConn got the ball back and got a 39-yard kickoff return from Robbie Frey to give the Huskies great field position at their own 40. The Huskies moved the ball into position for Teggart to attempt a 52-yard field goal with 17 seconds left on the clock. The junior, who had just hit a 50-yarder in the beginning of the fourth, didn’t disappoint as he nailed the career-long kick with plenty of distance to give UConn the win.
USF Football Post Game Notes
USF (7-5, 3-4 BIG EAST) 19 vs. Connecticut (8-4, 5-2 BIG EAST) 16
Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, 8 p.m.
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
- With today’s 19-16 loss, USF’s record drops to 7-5 overall and finishes its BIG EAST Conference season with a 3-4 record … It marks the 10th time in the program’s 14-year history that it has recorded at least seven wins, and the fifth consecutive season.
- Today’s loss to Connecticut evens USF’s record against the Huskies at 4-4, and drops it to 2-4 since joining the BIG EAST Conference … In addition, it is the first loss for the Bulls against the Huskies at Raymond James Stadium (3-1).
- Tonight’s loss drops USF’s record to 102-62 all-time … The Bulls are now 63-16 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 41,809 marks the 19th time in the last 25 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 … Tonight’s attendance is also the second largest of the season only behind the 43,844 that came through the turnstiles for the Pittsburgh game on Nov. 20.
- Today’s game is the seventh-straight nationally televised contest for the Bulls, and their fourth appearance on ESPN2 this season … Today’s loss drops USF’s record on ESPN2 to 14-9 all-time.
- USF recorded 333 total yards on 72 plays tonight against Connecticut marking the fifth time this season that they have logged 300 or more yards in total offense.
- USF’s defense held the Huskies to just 232 yards on 67 plays … Connecticut came into the game averaging 333.5 yards, fifth in the BIG EAST … In addition, the Bulls held UConn, ranked second in the BIG EAST in scoring (27.6 ppg), to eight points under its average.
- OC Sampson Genus, S Mistral Raymond, LB Jacquian Williams and P Justin Brockhaus-Kann were USF’s captains for today’s game against Connecticut … Genus, Raymond and Williams are all captains for the entire season, while Brockhaus-Kann is this week’s weekly captain … Today is Brockhaus-Kann’s second time as captain this season … He also made the walk with the season trio against Western Kentucky (Sept. 25).
- Tonight’s offensive starters were: SE Dontavia Bogan, LT Jamar Bass, LG Jeremiah Warren, C Sampson Genus, RG Chaz Hine, RT Jacob Sims, TE Kevin Gidrey, FL Evan Land, QB Bobby Eveld, RB Mo Plancher, RB Joel Miller
- Tonight’s defensive starters were: NT Cory Grissom, DT Terrell McClain, RE David Bedford, LE Ryne Giddens, SLB Jacquian Williams, MLB Sam Barrington, WLB DeDe Lattimore, LC Mistral Raymond, SS Jon Lejiste, FS Jerrell Young, RC Quenton Washington.
- K Maikon Bonani kicked three field goals in tonight’s game against Connecticut – a 42-yard boot with 10:17 left in the first half, a 38-yard strike with 2:49 left in the third quarter, and a 22-yarder with 1:16 left in the contest … Bonani is now 16-19 on the year.
- S Jon Lejiste recorded his first career interception with 6:31 left in the first half.
- LB Sam Barrington recorded his first career fumble recovery with 9:22 left in the game.
- DE Craig Marshall logged his first forced fumble of the season and the second of his career with 9:22 left.
- Eveld threw his second career touchdown pass on a 28-yard strike to WR Dontavia Bogan with 8:38 left in the game.
- Bogan’s touchdown reception from Eveld was his fifth of the season and the 11th of his career.