A stifling defense, the shortest punt return touchdown anyone has ever seen, and great rushing despite missing three starters along the offensive line helped the South Florida Bulls easily dispatch The Citadel Bulldogs 27-6 Saturday night in new head coach Jeff Scott’s debut.
“I wish I could tell you I was surprised by this, but I wasn’t,” Scott said of his debut win.
The Bulldogs took an early 3-0 lead with 4:16 left in the first quarter, but it was their only lead of the game.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan McCloud promptly led a scoring drive that ended with a great back shoulder throw to senior wide receiver DeVontres Odoms-Dukes for a 10-yard touchdown.
McCloud finished the night 11 for 16 for 68 yards, and a TD. Alcorn State transfer Noah Johnson made his debut later in the game and went 3 for 4 passing for 24 yards, with another 49 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The highlight of the night was this though:
After Bulldogs punter Matt Campbell dropped the snap and barely kicked the ball while trying to get a punt away, true freshman wide receiver Omarion Dollison caught it in the end zone for a touchdown. He goes into the record book with the shortest punt return touchdown in NCAA history with this zero-yard return.
Left tackle Donovan Jennings, left guard Demetris Harris, and center Brad Cecil were all unavailable for the Bulls, but USF still managed 302 yards rushing. They were led by sophomore running back Kelley Joiner’s 87 yards. Johnny Ford added another 71 yards on the ground.
The USF defense stymied the Bulldogs offense the entire night. They allowed just 3.7 yards per carry to The Citadel’s triple-option attack, which forced them into too many third and longs for them to convert. Bulldogs starting quarterback Brandon Rainey was 4-for-18 for 84 yards, and he also threw an interception, one of three turnovers forced by the Bulls on Saturday.
“Once we were able to stop their dive, and forced them to go sideline to sideline, I knew we had a chance to have success,” Scott said.
Linebacker Antonio Grier led the way with 10 tackles, one TFL, one sack, and a forced fumble. Wofford transfer defensive lineman Thad Mangum finished with nine tackles, and a TFL in his USF debut.
USF will travel to South Bend to face Notre Dame next week at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network.
- After starting 5-of-6 on third down, the Bulldogs went 3-of-12 the rest of the game.
- True freshman QB Katravis Marsh made his debut and was 4-of-5 for 10 yards.
- True freshman running back Brian Battie carried the ball three times for 43 yards.
- USF had 402 yards of total offense.