Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fsu Pulls Away

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fsu Pulls Away

Article excerpt

PAYBACK: FSU gets revenge for a USF win in Tallahassee in 2009

TAMPA -- The effort was admirable. The highlights were occasional.

The result was predictable.

The University of South Florida fearlessly fought highfalutin Florida State like an undersized heavyweight might go at one of the Klitschko brothers.

But despite landing a big punch or two -- a blocked punt led to USF getting as close as 13-10 in the third quarter -- the No. 4- ranked Seminoles (5-0) were just too good Saturday, winning 30-17 in front of a USF-record crowd of 69,383 at Raymond James Stadium and avenging a 2009 stumble against the Bulls in Tallahassee.

USF freshman linebacker Tashon Whithurst's punt block early in the third quarter was FSU's only serious slip. Quarterback EJ Manuel (19-of-26) threw for 242 yards, senior Chris Thompson ran for 91 yards and the 'Noles avoided any turnovers.

"It was the kind of the game I thought it was going to be," said coach Jimbo Fisher. "I thought South Florida played their tails off. They played us very physical. But we made enough mistakes to not put that thing away."

USF (2-3) trailed 13-3 at the half. But Whitehurst, with a body- be-darned sideways leap, burst through the middle of FSU's punt protection and blocked freshman Cason Beatty's kick, re-energizing the Bulls in the first two minutes of the second half.

The sudden first-and-goal at the Seminoles' 8-yard line set up quarterback B.J. Daniels' 1-yard touchdown run.

"It pumped us up," Whitehurst said. "That kept us going with the motivation, knowing that we could win. That was great."

The momentum had swung, right?

Nope.

A holding penalty wiped out Thompson's apparent 70-yard TD run. But one series later, sophomore receiver Rashad Greene's 32-yard catch across the middle, ahead of trailing free safety Fidel Montgomery, put FSU at the Bulls' 31. Thompson's 12-yard run got the 'Noles closer, and, on third-and-goal from the 1, Manuel rolled to his right and found wide-open tight end Kevin Haplea for an easy touchdown.

Greene tormented USF at key moments, hauling in a 39-yard pass from Manuel in the second quarter and reaching the end zone on a 10- yard reverse for the first 'Noles points.

"I was really proud of our football team, the way they competed, hung together and played a 60-minute game," said Bulls coach Skip Holtz. "The defense did a great job outside of a couple big plays. For a team that was averaging about 10 yards a carry to come in here and average about 4 yards, I thought our defensive front did a great job."

Dustin Hopkins' 23-yard field goal, his third of the game, made it 23-10. Then senior defensive end Cornellius (Tank) Carradine sacked USF backup quarterback Matt Floyd on the final play of the third quarter, forcing a fumble that Christian Jones scooped up and returned 12 yards for the back-breaking TD. …

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