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Blackwell heads up homecoming party

USF quarterback leads team to record night on offense.

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000


TAMPA -- It's hard to say which number was more remarkable Saturday: The 6,000 students who showed up for South Florida's homecoming, or the 420 yards of total offense racked up by Marquel Blackwell that got them celebrating.

Regardless, Saturday's 30-24 victory against Western Kentucky was a festive one, thanks mostly to a passing attack that was crisp, effective and, well, fun.

Just about every Bull got to party. There was Scott McCready, who caught a 40-yard touchdown from Blackwell less than two minutes into the game. Charlie Jackson had a 48-yard catch, his longest of the season, that led to a field goal. Tight end Richard Guerrero, who doesn't get many thrown in his direction, had a 16-yard touchdown catch.

And DeAndrew Rubin, who had a sprained ankle and hadn't caught a pass since Sept. 23, caught three for 57 yards, including a 37-yarder that saw him change direction twice, break two tackles and fall into the left corner of the end zone. (Officials ruled him down at the 1; Blackwell scored two plays later.)

Blackwell completed 27 of 39 passes for a school-record 360 yards -- beating Chad Barnhardt's 1998 mark of 337 against Hofstra -- and two touchdowns. It was the second 300-yard game in school history. He added 60 rushing yards on 17 carries.

"I don't know how many times our offense has been big time like that," coach Jim Leavitt said.

Leading the charge was Blackwell, who hooked up with nine receivers, more than enough weapons to keep the Hilltoppers off-balance.

"We had a challenge put on us this week," Jackson said. "We knew that their offense was really explosive and defensively it was going to be very tough for our guys. We decided to really push to keep our boys from having too much pressure on their backs."

McCready and Jackson helped open up the field early, and both finished with more than 100 receiving yards, another USF first. Only Clif Dell, who did it once in 1997 and once in 1998, had a 100-yard game. McCready finished with 107 yards on five catches; Jackson caught five for 101 yards.

Blackwell still saw room for improvement.

"I thought at times I could have completed a couple more," Blackwell said. "If you want to get better, you've got to shoot for perfection."

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