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USF refs not music lovers

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 14, 2002

TAMPA -- The school band almost forced the South Florida-Southern Miss game into overtime.

In the waning seconds of the Bulls' 16-13 win Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, the Golden Eagles were in field goal range but trying to move closer for kicker Curt Jones' tying attempt.

USF coach Jim Leavitt said an official threatened to penalize the Bulls if the Herd of Thunder continued playing while Southern Miss had possession.

"That's why I ran over (to the band) and told them to quiet down," Leavitt said. "He said he was going to penalize us 15 yards."

Jones' attempt from 44 yards on the final play fluttered wide right. A penalty would have made it a 29-yard try and greatly improved the likelihood of overtime. USF never has had an OT game.

AND A RIVALRY IS BORN: The Bulls might have their first rival in Southern Miss, which will become a regular opponent when USF joins Conference USA next season.

Some key ingredients are in place, especially a grudge USF has held over unflattering remarks Golden Eagles coach Jeff Bower made in 1999. Another ingredient was added Saturday in USF's win: Each team must be capable of beating the other.

"You can't have a rivalry unless you win," said Leavitt, whose team lost 41-7 at Southern Miss in 2000, its first game against a C-USA team.

Leavitt downplayed any perceived slights from Southern Miss, but his players detected something extra in him.

"I think this was a big win for him. I know it was. You could tell," defensive tackle Greg Walls said. "He got us ready to go in that second half. He came into that locker room and got us fired up."

A LOT OF OFFENSE: Both teams entered with better reputations and statistical rankings on defense than offense, and the 29 total points would seem to reflect a defense-oriented game. Both, however, missed several opportunities to score touchdowns, including each losing a fumble at the opponent's 1-yard line.

Both exceeded 400 total yards, 412 for Southern Miss and 464 for USF, a season high for the Bulls, eclipsing the 432 against North Texas.

MR. STEADY: Santiago Gramatica continued his stellar season, making all three field goals and an extra point. He is 8-for-10 on field goals and 18-for-18 on extra points.

"Santiago did a great job. He kept us in the hunt," Leavitt said.

GAMEBREAKER: DeAndrew Rubin was spectacular in the open field. He averaged 25 yards on four punt returns, 29.5 on two receptions and 28 on two kickoff returns. He touched the ball eight times and gained 215 all-purpose yards.

LOOK OUT, QBs: Junior defensive end Shurron Pierson had been quiet the first five games after setting a school record last season with 10 sacks. Saturday he registered a school-record four sacks, giving him five on the season.

"I told you that as soon as we started playing passing teams, (Pierson) would start getting his sacks," Walls said.

UP NEXT: Charleston Southern (4-2), a Division I-AA school, will be the next to challenge USF's home win streak (16), on Nov. 2. The Bulls have a bye Oct. 26 after visiting East Carolina on Saturday.

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