Tampa Bay Sports Day

BULLS: Mack’s Run Keys South Florida Win at Syracuse

South Florida running back Marlon Mack’s 52-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play from the Bulls’ 48-yard line late in the third quarter broke open a tight game and propelled American Athletic Conference-member South Florida to a 45-20 victoryover the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Syracuse Orange Saturday before 32,288 fans at the Carrier Dome.

“The thing I liked about our guys is nobody flinched on the sideline. They stayed wide-eyed and they looked adversity in the face and said, ‘Bring it on.’ That was great to see our guys respond that way,” said Bulls’ head coach Willie Taggart.

USF, which rallied from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit, tied for the second-largest comeback in program history.

Mack, who had 63 yards on eight carries before that touchdown, finished with 115 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns as the Bulls (3-0) outscored Syracuse 45-3 after the first quarter.
D’Ernest Johnson’s 83-yard punt return for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter boosted South Florida’s lead to 42-20.

Mack, sidelined last week against Northern Illinois, returned to action with 115 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries. He has 2,595 career yards, which is 22nd all-time among FBS
rushers in state of Florida history. He needs 137 yards to pass Andre Hall (2,731 yards in 2004-05) for the top spot on USF’s career rushing list.

Mack had two rushing touchdowns, giving him 20 and tying him for fifth all-time in career rushing touchdowns with QB Marquell Blackwell. Former QB B.J. Daniels is the career leader with 25. He had his 14th career 100-yard rushing game,

Syracuse QB Eric Dungey completed 32 of 47 pass attempts for two touchdowns and two interceptions as the hosts outgained South Florida 549-454 and held a 15-minute edge in time of possession.

Trailing 28-17 at the half, Syracuse (1-2) struck first in the third quarter on Cole Murphy’s second field goal of a game, a 49-yarder with four minutes remaining. It was the Orange’s first score since Murphy’s 40-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Bulls scored four second-quarter touchdowns to erase a 17-0 first-quarter deficit. Wide receiver Rodney Adams scored three of the touchdowns on a 27-yard screen pass from quarterback Quinton Flowers, a 9-yard run and a 19-yard run. Adams has now scored 16 touchdowns (10 receiving, 5 rushing, 1 kickoff return) in USF’s past 12 games. Mack scored the other Bulls TD on a 2-yard run that capped a 47-yard drive.

The Orange scored on its first three possessions Saturday to build a 17-0 lead. Dungey capped a 16-play, 79-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ervin Phillips on Syracuse’s opening possession, then connected with wide receiver Brisly Estime on a 47-yard scoring strike to make it 14-0.

Defensively for USF defensive end Deadrin Senat had a career high 10 tackles. Defensiove back Tajee Fullwood had his first career interception while teammate Ronnie Hoggins had a career-high 12 tackles and a forced fumble. Defensive end Vincent Jackson had a career-high 5 tackles. Cornerback Deatrick Nichols recorded his fifth career interception.

The Bulls improved to 3-0 for the first time since they started 4-0 in 2011. Next week, South Florida hosts a Florida State team that was rocked by Louisville 63-20 Saturday.

USF NOTES:  USF has won 10 of its last 12 games and has won four of its last five true road games…the Bulls are 3-0 for the first time since 2011, which began 4-0 with a season-opening win at Notre Dame….USF moved to 5-0 at Syracuse and 8-2 overall against the Orange….D’Ernest Johnson’s 83-yard punt return was the second-longest in USF history behind a 92-yarder from D’Andrew Rubin against Utah State in 2001. It was USF’s first punt-return score since Chris Dunkley’s 50-yarder against SMU in 2013. Jonathan Hernandez averaged 42.8 yards on seven punts with five inside-the-20 and a long punt of 53 yards.