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Falcons get desperate in search of offense

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 17, 2002

TAMPA -- When the offense isn't working, why not turn to Emory & Henry?

After one of its worst first-half performances this season (90 total yards, seven points), Bowling Green's offense shook things up to start the second half.

At its 22-yard line, the team's center lined up alone with quarterback Josh Harris behind in the shotgun. The rest of the offensive line was in formation 40 feet to the center's right.

It was reminiscent of former Florida coach Steve Spurrier's "Emory & Henry" formation that he broke out a few times a year. As a youngster, Spurrier saw Emory & Henry College run the play and thus named it.

Bowling Green only ran it on two plays: one incomplete pass and another complete for 5 yards.

SCOREBOARD WATCHING: All berths to the 28 bowl games are tied to conferences. But in at least three conferences there is a chance not enough teams will be bowl eligible (six wins and a .500 record or better) to fulfill the tie-ins.

In the Big Ten, where seven bids are available but only five teams are bowl eligible, Purdue stayed alive with a 45-42 win at Michigan State and would be bowl eligible with a home win Saturday against Indiana. Wisconsin also would claim a berth with a home win Saturday against Minnesota. No other teams have a chance. In the Mountain West, where four bids are available and two are eligible, UNLV lost to Air Force and was eliminated. New Mexico beat BYU 20-16 Saturday to improve to 6-5. The Lobos must win one of their final two to qualify for the postseason. BYU needs to beat Utah on Saturday to become bowl eligible.

Conference USA also could come up short. Five berths are available and four are bowl eligible. Several teams are vying to claim the final spot.

CRUNCH: USF cornerback Sidney Simpson had the hit of the night, delivering a crunching block on a second-quarter punt return by Ryan Hearn.

ON THE BOARD: DeJuan Green's 9-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the first of his USF career. The junior transferred from Georgia after two years.

REPRESENTING: Representatives from the GMAC Bowl and Motor City Bowl attended. Both have tie-ins to the Mid-American Conference, but the Motor City Bowl also was watching USF, which is a candidate to take the Big Ten's slot in the game.

SLICK SURFACE?: Despite Saturday's rain, which ended during the first half, the field appeared in good condition. The Bulls got traction in warmups, though cornerback Ron Hemingway slipped and fell breaking on a ball. Both sides seemed to have good footing in the game, though the sod was chewed up somewhat. The Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers play on it at 4 p.m. today.

HE DOES IT ALL: Quarterback Marquel Blackwell is third in USF history in rushing yards. He had 56 Saturday and needs 28 to surpass Dyral McMillan's 1,246 to move into second. Rafael Williams is first with 2,253.

PERFECT POOCHER: Blackwell lined up in the shotgun on fourth down early in the second and punted. The ball rolled dead at the 5, making it the fourth time in five attempts this season Blackwell punted and pinned an opponent inside its 6.

TIDBITS: The weather hampered actual attendance. USF officials count tickets sold, and Saturday's count was 28,098. School officials were expecting about 35,000, which would have been a Bulls record at Raymond James Stadium. ... USF safety J.R. Reed's first-quarter interception gave him picks in three straight games. The junior has four this season and nine career, one behind Anthony Henry's school record of 10.

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