© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2001
TAMPA -- Chris Iskra has been catching his share of passes. It seemed, however, he and quarterback Marquel Blackwell weren't quite clicking.
Iskra had 26 receptions going into Saturday's game against Liberty, tied for second on the team, but it could have been a lot more. Iskra had a few drops, and Blackwell often seemed to throw errantly when aiming for Iskra.
Not Saturday. Blackwell and Iskra looked like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice in the 68-37 win, connecting six times for 143 yards, third-most yards in a game in USF history, and two touchdowns.
"I thought Iskra looked to me to have an awfully good game," USF coach Jim Leavitt said of the sophomore from Clearwater Central Catholic. "He played extremely well."
Blackwell also was impressed.
"He did a real good job," said Blackwell, who threw a 68-yard touchdown to Iskra in last season's 44-6 win over the Flames. "It was his turn to get it going tonight. He had the man with the softest coverage, and he was running by him all night."
BAD CALL: Officials are cracking down on excessive celebrations, but they showed questionable judgment on a call late Saturday.
Midway through the fourth quarter, USF's Quinton Callum busted a long run up the middle. For about the last 40 yards, a defensive back slowly closed in on Callum, and at about the 5-yard line he reached out to grab Callum's jersey. He got a hand on Callum's back, but the sophomore running back leaped into the end zone -- and inexplicably was called for a penalty for his dive/lunge over the goal line.
Callum then compounded his situation by removing his helmet -- it was the first touchdown of his career -- and earning another penalty. He was ejected because of the two 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and kicker Santiago Gramatica missed the extra point from 50 yards.
"(They called the first penalty for the dive) with a guy grabbing him on the back, which is absolutely interesting," an animated Leavitt said. "Why in the world you wouldn't want to have effort and dive into the end zone when a guy is pulling on your jersey is beyond me. Then taking the helmet off is wrong, but ... amazing. I don't understand. Officials officiate and I coach."
MIFFED: Leavitt was irked by his defense, which yielded a school-record 31 first downs.
"(Liberty) went out there and emptied (the backfield), and it was like we'd never seen it before," Leavitt said. "We see that all the time from our offense. We practice against it every day."
WHO'S HE?: Defensive ends Derek Carter and Emerson Morris are out for the season with injuries, and starter Chris Daley sprained an ankle in the first quarter, so tight end Tommy Hunter played defensive end for USF in the second half. He made three tackles.