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OU tricked but mistake wipes out TD

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002

NORMAN, Okla. -- South Florida broke out a gadget play in the second quarter Saturday against Oklahoma, and it worked for a touchdown and a stunning 6-0 lead -- or would have, except the Bulls were called for a penalty.

Quarterback Marquel Blackwell threw in the flat to receiver Brian Fisher, a high school quarterback, who threw downfield to running back DeJuan Green for an apparent 37-yard score. But Blackwell's pass to Fisher was not a lateral, nullifying Fisher's pass.

Two plays later the Bulls punted and Antonio Perkins returned it 82 yards for a touchdown to put the Sooners in front 7-0. It was the first punt-return score allowed in USF history, spanning 59 games.

GOLD REPRESENTATION: A patch of gold-clad USF fans occupied the lower southeast corner of Memorial Stadium. About 500 Bulls supporters were expected to make the trip. Roughly 200 were in the end zone and the rest were scattered. USF sports information director John Gerdes said the school sold 400 tickets.

TWEAKINGS: The Bulls opened in a nickel defense, with John Miller replacing weakside linebacker Courtney Davenport in the lineup. Redshirt freshman D'Juan Brown started in place of Maurice Tucker at cornerback, and when the Bulls went to a dime package, Sidney Simpson was the sixth defensive back.

On offense, the Bulls broke custom and started with two backs instead of one and stuck with the formation early. Clenton Crossley and Green rushed several times in the first quarter when both were in the game.

FUMBLITIS: Crossley fumbled in the middle of the second quarter at the USF 45, setting up OU's second touchdown. With USF driving late in the half, Green lost a fumble and the Sooners quickly drove to a 21-0 lead.

BIG STICK: The best hit of the first quarter was registered by Oklahoma linebacker Lance Mitchell, who delivered a crunching blow on Fisher. Fisher was fighting for, but came up just short of, a first down at midfield in the middle of the quarter.

On the next play, with the game scoreless, USF lined up to go for it on fourth and 1 at the 50. But two USF linemen jumped offsides and the Bulls punted.

BIG STICK II: The Sooners led 7-0 in the second with first and goal from the USF 1 when Kawika Mitchell momentarily halted Oklahoma's momentum. The senior middle linebacker knocked tailback Quentin Griffin for a 2-yard loss. However, Oklahoma scored on the next play for a 14-0 lead.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY: On Oklahoma's opening possession, quarterback Nate Hybl threw a pass down the right seam directly to USF safety Kevin Verpaele, who couldn't hold it.

OU returned the favor late in the first quarter when safety Eric Bassey dropped a Blackwell pass on a deep crossing route.

JITTERS: On USF's first play from scrimmage, a crisp shotgun snap from center Alex Herron went right through the hands of Blackwell, who scrambled back to cover it for an 18-yard loss.

LIGHT SHOW: Whenever Oklahoma scored, red fireworks shot out from the north end zone scoreboard.

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