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Bulls tip away rallyin the fourth quarter

USF's front seven come up big, denying TSU quarterback Brock Nutter when it counts.

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000


TAMPA -- With 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, South Florida was beating Division I-AA No. 1 Troy State 20-10. The biggest victory in school history was so close, the Bulls defense could reach out and touch it.

Literally.

USF had Troy State pinned inside its 10. Quarterback Brock Nutter passed; linebacker Kawika Mitchell tipped it. Nutter passed again; reserve defensive back Joe Morgan batted it away. In desperation, Nutter went deep, and the only player close enough to get a finger on it was USF's Roy Manns. He did, of course.

And so it went for the Bulls on Saturday, when seemingly every defensive player had a hand in keeping the Trojans off balance. Not only did USF hold Nutter to 10-for-28 passing for 55 yards, it sacked him three times and limited time of possession to 26:01. Over three games, Nutter had completed 57 percent of his passes and was averaging 273.3 passing yards.

And as the game went on, the Bulls defense only got better.

"At the end, it was great to see the emotion," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "It was like there was blood in the water for a school of sharks."

And the sharks were looking for payback. USF still was smarting over last year's 41-24 loss to Troy State, in which the defense gave up 27 second-half points. Saturday's total over those two quarters: Zero.

"We were full of emotion," said defensive end Shawn Hay, who recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to a field goal. "The D-line took it personally, because last year we didn't have a good game at all."

It was the defensive backs, though, who led the charge. Starters Manns (11 tackles), Jay Mize (7), Glenn Davis (6) and Anthony Henry (5) accounted for nearly half of USF's tackles. In the third quarter, Henry added an interception, the seventh of his career.

The Bulls were even prouder of the job they did shutting down Troy State's running backs, especially Auburn transfer Demontray Carter. Carter scored on a 46-yard run and totaled 114 yards but averaged only 4.5 yards on his other 15 carries. His average had been 8.5.

"That's their bread and butter," linebacker Vassay Marc said. "For us to go out there and shut that down, it shows we're capable of doing anything."

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