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Gramatica kicks up celebration

By ANTONYA ENGLISH and SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 3, 2000


photo
[Times photo: Bill Serne]
USF kicker Bill Gramatica, right, celebrates with holder Kevin Patullo after a first-half field goal.
TAMPA -- He still may be the second most popular Gramatica in Tampa, but South Florida's senior placekicker is back to the form that made him a Division I-AA first-team All-American in 1998.

Bill Gramatica, younger brother of Bucs kicker Martin, returned with a flourish (and his usual theatrics) Saturday against Jacksonville State. Gramatica was 4-for-4 on field goals, including two 43-yarders and a 41-yarder. But it was his first field goal, a 25-yarder, that prompted the signature celebration of bouncing off any teammate in sight. He had not kicked a field goal in eight games, and missed the final six games of 1999 with a groin pull.

Gramatica, who has made 44-yarders twice, has 10 games to tie or break the school record of 45 yards, set by Steve Riggs in 1997. Then he will yield to brother Santiago, the LaBelle High kicker who has said he will sign with the Bulls in February.

INJURY REPORT: Senior safety Jay Mize missed the game because of a herniated disc that kept him sidelined during the preseason.

Three other Bulls were also out: defensive back Ron Hemingway (toe), defensive end Ian Blackwell (knee) and defensive end John Brown (ankle).

MISSING THE MARK: USF officials had hoped to draw a sellout crowd of 41,000 for the season-opener, but fans didn't quite accommodate. The game drew 30,043, the fourth-largest USF crowd at Raymond James Stadium, eighth-largest home crowd for the Bulls and second-largest home opener.

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: Bradenton Southeast quarterback Adrian McPherson, one of the nation's top football and basketball prospects, attended with a number of other recruits. McPherson, a preseason All-American who threw for 33 touchdowns last season, reportedly is considering USF.

HE'S THE MANNS: Senior Roy Manns, a fixture at strong safety since USF football began, started for Mize. He picked up two fumbles in the third quarter, both plays that led to touchdowns. He had not had a fumble recovery since 1997. Manns is the all-time USF interceptions leader with seven.

MAN OF ACTION: Senior receiver Charlie Jackson caught four passes for 46 yards in the first half, pushing him to No. 1 on USF's receiving yards list. His 19-yard reception in the second quarter gave him 1,012 yards, ahead of Clif Dell (1,003, 1997-98).

ROSTER NOTES: Junior Joe Morgan got his first start, filling in for Manns. ... Senior Steve Hatley started ahead of Tchecoy Blount, who started 10 of 11 games at right defensive end last season. ... Sophomore Lee Roy Selmon Jr. started ahead of Greg Walls. ... Senior quarterback Mike Usry came in for Marquel Blackwell in the fourth quarter.

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