Tampa, September 8, 2018– Beautiful day at Raymond James to kick off South Florida’s second regular-season home game battling a methodical Georgia Tech offense; the sun is shining, but not boiling at a cool 87 degrees, and more importantly, Bulls’ fans are back in healthy attendance. Chanting with their horns up, adding to the cheers of USF’s prideful band roars, ready to witness their glistening gold-helmeted Bulls stampede their way to 2-0.
This Saturday’s matchup against Georgia Tech was an eventful one in all aspects, to say the LEAST. USF fired back in the final quarter down 10 points to win by 11, settling the score with a tight 49-38 victory. Straight out the gate, GT tested USF’s brains with their slow killer, multiple-option play schemes, progressing the pigskin steadily but surely- hash mark by hash mark, stinging USF’s weak outer edge by simply out-numbering their sideline coverages.
USF’s first drive ended up in the hands of the Yellow Jackets shortly after it started with Blake Barnett throwing an interception, but was soon made up for. The very next possession lasted all of 12 seconds, courtesy of 5’7” 176-pound freshman wide receiver, #80 Terrence Horne Jr who took it to the house on a 98-yard kickoff return. Georgia Tech must have not learned their lesson and on the Bulls’ 3rd drive, Terrence hauled in ANOTHER return for 97 yards! The crowd is up on their feet going wild, Horne basking in the glory of it all, as the true first-year man finished with 3 TDs and 264 return yards.
Both teams were neck and neck throughout the entirety of the game as South Florida led 21-17 at the half, trading scores and answering each other’s points. The Green and Gold gave up 600 total yards on defense, and had 10 fewer minutes of possession time than Georgia Tech- still, that did not alter their relentless efforts to seal the deal out on top.
Georgia Tech trying to control the pace being ahead by a field goal, running down the clock in the final 7 minutes of the game. That game plan didn’t work in their favor as the Bulls snuck up from behind and forced a fumble- a costly turn over to set up a USF scoring drive.
Winning drive: Blake Barnett leaving a sour taste in the defense’s mouth, punching in another goal-line rushing TD with 1:34 left on the clock, proving once again he can keep his composure within the pocket, also bringing back some Quinton Flowers memories with some impressive mobility, leading the team in rushing yards, collecting 91 yards and 2 scores by himself. In 2 games, Barnett has recorded 507 total passing yards on 45 completions of 65 attempts, throwing 5 touchdowns and running in 3!
“We have a lot of weapons on offense and like coach [Strong] said, everyone has their own roles; I contribute both at the return game and as a wide receiver, so it just feels great that coach trusts me as a true freshman to help the team produce,” said WR Terrence Horne Jr humbly.
“In order for us to receive the recognition we need to get across the country, we have to get within our own city- no one ever writes or talks about it and one of these days I’m going to turn this city; it’s going to be all about South Florida,” exclaims Head Coach Charlie Strong passionately.
“The defense was awesome in helping us out today, that fumble take-away really changed the momentum of the game and as an offense, we knew we had to take advantage of it and get the ball moving to score,” stated QB Blake Barnett.
264 – The kick return yards total by Terrence Horne Jr.
21 – The amount of unanswered points by USF in the fourth quarter.
4 – The number of consecutive victories USF has totaled against Power Five opponents.
4 – Touchdowns produced by quarterback Blake Barnett (two rushing, two passing).
- Freshman Terrence Horne Jr. tied the NCAA game record and set new USF, American Athletic Conference top marks with two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Horne set the new USF game record with 264 kickoff return yards after taking consecutive kickoffs to the end zone from 98 and 97 yards out.
- USF has won four straight games against Power Five opponents and improved to 6-1 against P5 foes in the past seven games.
- USF has won 30 of its past 36 games and is 23-4 since the start of the 2016 season, including a 10-1 mark in non-conference games.
- USF has won 18 of its past 21 games at Raymond James Stadium.
- Saturday marked USF’s first-ever meeting with Georgia Tech. The series continues next season with a game on Sept. 7, 2019 in Atlanta.
USF travels to Chicago to take on Big Ten foe Illinois at Soldier Field on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 3:30 p.m.
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor.