Senior day big off, on field for 11

Published November 12, 2006

TAMPA - On a day when USF recognized 11 seniors before their final home game, one of them, linebacker Stephen Nicholas, led a defensive effort at the heart of a 27-10 win against Syracuse.

Nicholas' sack of quarterback Perry Patterson in the third quarter gave him 48.5 tackles for loss, breaking the USF career record set by Greg Walls from 1999-2002.

"Stephen Nicholas is just taking over games. He's a force out there," coach Jim Leavitt said.

Nicholas said the pregame honors were emotional, and he thanked the underclassmen for helping send the seniors out the right way.

"It's very powerful," Nicholas said of the pregame ceremonies. "I was seeing everybody else, and when it was my time, I was like, 'Whoa.' I told (the younger players) if you need to play for a senior, play for a senior, but we all need to play hard."

Several other seniors had significant plays: Receiver S.J. Green caught the game's first touchdown, and quarterback Pat Julmiste, filling in during the fourth quarter, scored on a 3-yard keeper. Tight end Will Bleakley caught two passes for 27 yards, safety Jeremy Burnett had six tackles and linebacker Patrick St. Louis had four.

Offensive tackle Thed Watson also was recognized, along with four former walk-ons now on scholarship: long-snapper Ryan Bordeau, tight end Devin Gordon, receiver Ean Randolph and running back Walt Smith.

INJURY UPDATE: Watson left in the second half with a mild concussion but said he'll play Saturday against Louisville. Walk-on linebacker Houston Hess also suffered a concussion on kickoff coverage and did not return.

Freshman linebacker Sabbath Joseph, who is redshirting this season, was on crutches after breaking the tibula in his right leg in practice this week. He's expected to return healthy in time for spring practice.

NOW THAT'S LONG: Freshman Delbert Alvarado's 56-yard field goal not only set a Big East record, but only two field goals in all of college football had been longer this season entering Saturday's game. Oregon State's Alexis Serna and Auburn's John Vaughn hit 58-yarders .

HE'S NO TEACHEY: Syracuse took one out of USF's playbook, trying a fake punt in the third quarter on fourth and 10 from its 33-yard line. Punter Brendan Carney took off but gained only 7 yards, brought down by safety Danny Verpaele. USF's Justin Teachey converted two fake punts for first downs in last weekend's win against Pittsburgh.

THIS AND THAT: Redshirt freshman defensive end Chris Robinson, used primarily on third down, came up with two big sacks in the first half, sacking Patterson to end two drives. Robinson has 4.5 sacks this season. ... Former USF running back Andre Hall, who leaves today to join the Denver Broncos' practice squad, watched the first half from the Bulls bench. ... The Bulls finished the game with former walk-on Anthony Severino at quarterback. USF will seek a medical redshirt for sophomore quarterback Grant Gregory, who has battled thumb and shoulder injuries and has not played since September.