Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF: Bulls Erase 10-Point Fourth-Quarter Deficit, Down Georgia Tech

TAMPA — USF used a 21-point outburst to rally back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to post a 49-38 victory over ACC foe Georgia Tech Saturday before a nationally televised crowd of 34,182 at Raymond James Stadium.

Quarterback Blake Barnett led the comeback with two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns and used his feet to produce the go-ahead score from 19 yards out with 5:08 to play.

Barnett helped seal the victory with a 5-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes remaining and his second straight four-score game included a pair of touchdown passes.

USF (2-0) secured its fourth straight victory over a Power Five conference foe after freshman Terrence Horne Jr. tied an NCAA game record and set new USF and American Athletic Conference marks with two kickoff returns for touchdowns on consecutive returns of 98 and 97 yards.

Horne set a new USF game record with 264 kickoff return yards. He added his third touchdown of the day when his 3-yard touchdown reception ignited the Bulls’ rally early in the fourth quarter.

Linebacker Nico Sawtelle also played a pivotal role in the comeback, recovering a fumble at the USF 12 with the Bulls trailing, 38-35, and intercepting a pass late in the game to protect a 42-38 lead.

USF headed into halftime of its first-ever game against Georgia Tech (1-1) with a 21-17 advantage after two huge special teams plays and the first touchdown toss of the day by Barnett.

Horne’s highlight-reel performance began with consecutive kickoff returns for touchdowns in the first quarter. His 98-yarder helped give the Bulls a 7-3 lead and was the third-longest in program history. Horne followed that up with a 97-yarder, which gave him the new USF game record for kickoff return yards and tied him for tops on the USF season and career charts with two scores.

USF took a 21-17 lead less than five minutes into the second quarter with an 18-yard scoring catch by Darnell Salomon (Miami), Barnett’s fourth of five different touchdown targets already this season.

Georgia Tech took the lead back on the opening drive of the second half after a 69-yard drive and USF answered right back with a 74-yard drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Duran Bell Jr. near the midpoint of the third quarter.

Down, 38-28, early in the fourth quarter, USF cut into its deficit with Horne’s third score, a 3-yard touchdown catch with 12:11 to play. Sawtelle recovered a fumble on the next drive at the USF 12 and the Bulls cashed in on their second takeaway of the game.

Barnett capped off a 10-play, 88-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run that helped give USF a 42-38 lead with 5:08 remaining. USF’s defense prevented a Georgia Tech comeback attempt with Sawtelle’s interception inside Yellow Jackets territory. Barnett’s 5-yard touchdown run put the game away with 2:56 remaining.

USF’s offense finished with 426 total yards, its 11th straight 400-plus yard outing, while Barnett completed 21 of 31 passes for 202 yards. Tyre McCants posted a career-high 10 catches for 99 yards. Defensively, Ronnie Hoggins led the way with 10 tackles.