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Sipp's starts streak in jeopardy

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


TAMPA -- South Florida center Joey Sipp is four games from being able to say he started every game of his college career. But after an injury to his right ankle in the third quarter against Liberty, that streak might be in danger.

Sipp, who started his 40th straight game Saturday, was carted off early in the third quarter for X-rays and was replaced by Anthony McKenzie. X-rays were negative and he will be re-evaluated Monday.

The line already was in trouble. Offensive tackle Kenyatta Jones sat out with an injury to his left ankle suffered in practice last week, and the line -- and quarterback Marquel Blackwell -- paid for it.

Blackwell was sacked three times in the first half for a total of 35 yards, fumbling late in the second quarter after being hit. With Jones out, Mike Snellgrove was moved from right to left tackle, and Ken Dawson started on the right side.

OH, HENRY: Cornerback Anthony Henry tied Roy Manns' school record for interceptions, grabbing the eighth of his career on Liberty's first series. Henry returned the ball 32 yards to the Flames' 6-yard line, and USF scored two plays later on a 3-yard Otis Dixon run.

Henry also threw a major block downfield that allowed Anthony Williams to return his interception of Liberty's conversion attempt 94 yards for two points.

HE'S BACK: Linebacker Marshall Smith, who missed three games with a sprained medial collateral (knee) ligament, returned against Liberty and made a big play on special teams. In the third quarter, Smith got the ball on a fake punt and ran 25 yards to Liberty's 26 for a first down. The Bulls did not score on that drive, turning the ball over on downs.

MISCUES: Coach Jim Leavitt has been unhappy with the Bulls' penalties (about 10 a game) and found more reasons to be upset Saturday. USF was flagged 13 times for 118 yards, including three personal fouls in the fourth quarter -- one that resulted in the ejection of defensive end Tchecoy Blount for allegedly hitting Liberty quarterback Biff Parson. A particularly painful penalty came in the first quarter, when USF gained 34 yards on a reverse to get inside Liberty's 20, but the play was called back. Blackwell handed off to Dixon, who handed off to receiver Hugh Smith, who was helped downfield by a huge block from Blackwell. But officials charged the Bulls with illegal formation.

ROSTER NOTES: Freshman receiver Chris Iskra started in place of DeAndrew Rubin (sprained ankle). Sophomore defensive end Chris Daley also got his first start, in place of senior Steve Hatley, and was in on the game's first tackle.

BULL BITS: Kicker Bill Gramatica, brothers Martin and Santiago and their parents will appear on ESPN's College GameDay on Nov. 11, not Saturday as originally scheduled. ESPN was in Tampa last week filming the piece. ... Freshman Kevin Verpaele blocked a punt in the third quarter. ... Running back Rafael Williams needed 34 yards to reach the 2,000 for his career; he got there in the third quarter.

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