Grothe's long run kicks half into gear

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 25, 2007

PITTSBURGH - Quarterback Matt Grothe turned a simple inside run on the first play of the second half into an 80-yard touchdown run that gave USF its first lead in a 48-37 win.

It was the longest run of Grothe's career and matches the second-longest run in USF history. Was the sophomore quarterback tired after the run?

"I was winded the rest of the game," Grothe said, laughing. "I was pretty tired."

Grothe was 30 yards downfield before he needed a block from tight end Cedric Hill, and he outran the Panthers defense the rest of the way. Rafael Williams 86 yards in 1998 holds the record.

Taking five sacks, Grothe finished with 67 rushing yards, a game high, and his coaches had a little grief for how long it took him to score.

"I told him he was getting slow, with 13 seconds for 80 yards," offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said. "That's what happens when you go up to 209 pounds. ... But that was a huge play for us. We knew it was going to be a grind playing them."

MOURNING: Senior cornerback Mike Jenkins did not fly to Pittsburgh with the team after his grandmother died last week. Jenkins was able to fly in Saturday morning and started his final regular-season game.

He was on the sideline, however, when Pittsburgh converted a third-and-28 play, passing for a touchdown on sophomore cornerback Jerome Murphy, who was filling in for Jenkins for unknown reasons.

SCORING FRENZY: Touchdowns on interception returns by Nate Allen and Trae Williams gave the Bulls six non-offensive TDs this season, including three by Williams and two by Allen. Linebacker Ben Moffitt nearly had his second score, but his 60-yard return ended when he was tripped up at the 1-yard line.

"I told him I blamed the strength and conditioning coaches that he didn't get in there," said Williams, who has three touchdowns in the past four games. "One of the receivers was teasing me, saying 'You've got more touchdowns than me this season.'"

CENTURY MARK: Linebacker Tyrone McKenzie had 18 total tackles, one short of J.R. Reed's school record, and by the end of the day, McKenzie had more than 100 tackles for the second year in a row. He had 129 tackles last season at Iowa State, and now has a team-high 111 for the Bulls. Kawika Mitchell's USF season record is 117, set in 2002.

RECORD KICKS: Kicker Delbert Alvarado, who connected on field goals of 31 and 45 yards, set a USF record for extra points with 51 this season, breaking Bill Gramatica's record of 46, set in 1998. Alvarado has only missed one PAT, so he moved ahead of Gramatica for the most accurate season of extra points. Gramatica went 46-for-47 in 1998.

ONE SHY: Defensive end George Selvie needed two tackles for loss to set the NCAA record, but after getting one on the first play of the game, he didn't get another.

THIS AND THAT: Sophomore linebacker Donte Spires, a Plant graduate, made his first career start and had his first career sack on the opening drive. ... To help battle the cold, USF spent $500 for special heated benches and portable heaters on the sideline. Pittsburgh rents them to visiting teams.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.