USF Comes From Behind To Defeat Georgia Tech

By on September 9, 2018

(Photo-Travis Failey)

USF shows grit, defense comes up big in Power 5 matchup

With Georgia Tech coming into Raymond James on Saturday, USF knew they would have their hands full and the Yellow Jackets didn’t disappoint.

Despite USF escaping with a 49-38 victory, Georgia Tech was able to amass 602 yards of total offense with an astonishing 435 of those yards coming by way of the run.

“It was a really good game,” Charlie Strong said after the game. “I told them this morning in the pregame speech, I said to them, this game is going to be about mental toughness, and it’s going to be assignment football on defense.”

(Photo-Travis Failey)

“I said offensively we’re going to have to be able to be patient. We’re going to be able to drive the ball, but if we’re patient we’re going to get our throws, Blake will make the throws, we’ll be able to make the runs and we’ll outlast them. That’s the key thing, at the end of the day we just have to have one more point than they have.”

After Georgia Tech won the toss and deferred to the second half, USF got a chance to jump out in front, but on 2nd and 13 from the Georgia Tech 43-yard line Blake Barnett finally proved he was human when his ill-advised pass intended for Randall St. Felix was intercepted.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

Georgia Tech’s ground attack was then unleashed as the Yellow Jackets moved from their own 43-yard line to the USF red zone in just seven plays before being smothered and settling for a field goal.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

On the ensuing kickoff, true freshman Terrance Horne Jr. took the kick back 98 yards for his first career touchdown, giving USF the 7-3 lead.

Georgia Tech wasted no time responding with a touchdown of their own, this time going 75 yards, all on the ground, and scoring in only five plays.

Then a star was born.

Now leading 10-7, Georgia Tech kicked off and Terrance Horne Jr. once again responded with his second consecutive kickoff return of the day, this time for 97 yards, and the stadium erupted. USF had taken a 14-10 lead and it was the Power 5 matchup USF fans had been dreaming about.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

“He’s the fastest guy on this ball club,” Hoggins said about Horne. “I mean, he can fly. When you see him run he runs effortless, that’s how fast he is. You just see him pouncing off of the ground. I told him that big time players make big time plays in big time games, and then I told him, if you’re going to be fast, you’ve got to be fast all the time.”

The two teams would then trade touchdowns until a batted ball was intercepted by Hoggins on Georgia Tech’s last drive of the first half and USF was able to carry a 21-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

Georgia Tech got the ball to start the half and, despite not throwing a single pass in the third quarter, wouldn’t be stopped. The third quarter saw them run the ball 21 times for 217 yards and they were able to find the end zone on all three of their drives.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

The USF offense did their best to keep up, but just one punt was all it took to put them behind the eight ball as Georgia Tech’s fourth rushing touchdown of the day would put them ahead 38-28 with 14:15 left in the game.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

USF needed to respond, and within seven plays they were back inside the Georgia Tech 5-yard line when Barnett found Horne on a screen pass and he fought his way into the end zone for his third touchdown of the day.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

The game was in reach with USF within just three again, but their defense hadn’t stopped Georgia Tech since the first half.

Georgia Tech found their way back down the field and into the USF red zone before the defense stood up. On 3rd and 3 from the USF 19-yard line, Georgia Tech running back Qua Searcy took the hand off to the left side and got the yardage for a first down but USF safety Bentlee Sanders made the play of the day, knocking the ball free and allowing Nico Sawtelle to jump on the loose ball and secure a comeback attempt for the Bulls.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

“We just knew we had to take advantage of what the defense did right there, they were awesome helping us out today,” Barnett said. “That takeaway really changed the momentum of the game, I think, and as an offense we just knew that we would have to take advantage of it, get the ball moving and score.”

(Photo-Travis Failey)

Barnett then led the charge, driving the length of the field before fooling the entire stadium on a read option keeper and taking off for the 19-yard score. USF was back on top 42-38 and they had now forced Georgia Tech into a passing situation, something they hadn’t been able to do more than a handful of times all day.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

That allowed the Bulls’ pass rush to break loose and after a holding penalty pushed Georgia Tech’s game-saving drive to a 3rd and 20, another batted pass was sent straight up and found the waiting hands of – who else but – Nico Sawtelle again.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

Barnett would eventually tack on another rushing touchdown, pushing the USF lead to 49-38 and sealing the win for the Bulls.

“I just love our resiliency,” Strong said.“I love the way we just battle and this is a special team. For us to come together and play as well as we played against a really good football team, and a very unique football team… that’s what was special about this game.”

USF will head to Chicago for their next game as they play Illinois in Soldier Field next Saturday, September, 8th.

The game will kickoff at 3:30 P.M. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

 

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

 

 

 

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