No. 19 South Florida beats Syracuse

TAMPA, Fla. — The early start failed to slow down Matt Grothe.

The junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes and ran for another and No. 19 South Florida topped Syracuse 45-13 on Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t his performance that had him drained.

“It’s getting up at seven in the morning,” Grothe said of the Bulls’ noon kickoff. “I’m still tired from that. When I’m not so worried about football, I play better. I was more worried about getting up early.”

Grothe, who was also the team’s leading rusher with 72 yards, finished 19-for-26 for 248 yards. His second touchdown pass in the third quarter was the 40th of his career, good for second in the history of South Florida. He is 17 shy of the program record set by Marquel Blackwell from 1999-2002.

“Matt played extremely well,” South Florida coach Jim Leavitt said. “He did a real good job and there were even some passes that could’ve been caught.”

The Bulls (6-1, 1-1 Big East) seemed to be back on track after a disappointing loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 2, which knocked them out of the top 10 in the polls. However, South Florida is still in the hunt for its first Big East title.

“We played well today,” Grothe said. “We didn’t play as bad as (against Pittsburgh) everyone made it out to seem — we just didn’t finish. Today was different, and we’re wanting to win the Big East. We want to be BCS eligible.”

Running back Ben Williams also had a 1-yard rushing touchdown, finishing with 25 yards. South Florida pulled away in the third following a sack and a forced fumble by defensive tackle Aaron Harris and a recovered fumble by Craig Marshall. That set up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Grothe to A.J. Love.

After forcing a punt, the Bulls went up 34-13 after a 9-yard pass from Grothe to receiver Taurus Johnson.

Johnson, who had two touchdown receptions, had three catches for 29 yards.

“We didn’t do a very good job in the first half, especially on defense,” Leavitt said. “But we spent more time on South Florida than on Syracuse this week, which we thought would be really important to be successful.”

The Bulls have outscored their opponents 59-7 in the third quarter this season.

South Florida improved defensively, allowing Syracuse just 9 yards of offense in the second half and keeping it from picking up a first down.

“We made just a slight adjustment that allowed them to do what we know they can do,” defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said.

Running back Curtis Brinkley was the Orange’s lone bright spot, rushing for a team-high 112 yards on 20 attempts and a touchdown. It was his fifth 100-yard plus game of the season.

“I honestly think we can play with them guys, but the score shows what the game was,” Brinkley said.

Quarterback Cameron Dantley struggled to get drives going in the second half, going 11-of-27 for 129 yards in the game.

“We went dormant on offense,” Syracuse coach Greg Robinson said. “I’m disappointed, I really am. I thought that it’d be a better football game than it turned out to be.”

The Bulls opened the scoring early in the first quarter. A 20-yard Grothe screen pass to Williams set up a 1-yard score by Williams on the next play.

Syracuse (1-6, 0-3) had a 43-yard field goal by Patrick Shadle on the next drive.

South Florida scored on its next drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Grothe to Johnson.

The Orange answered on the first play of the second with a 24-yard touchdown run by Brinkley, but Grothe added an 11-yard touchdown run.

The Bulls led 21-13 at the half following a 24-yard field goal by Shadle.

Bulls kicker Maikon Bonani added a 31-yard field goal in the fourth, and Richard Kelly had a 2-yard score late in the fourth.

All-American defensive end George Selvie, who has been nursing an ankle injury, made his first start since Sept. 27 at N.C. State. He finished with two tackles and a sack.

Linebacker Brouce Mompremier also started his first game since suffering a serious neck injury in the Sept. 20 win at Florida International, in which he had to be airlifted off the field. Mompremier finished with two tackles.

South Florida is 4-0 against Syracuse since it joined the Big East in 2005. It is the only team the Bulls are undefeated against in the conference.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lynnwood teammates mob senior Abbie Orr (4) after her impressive dig led to a point against Jackson during a volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood volleyball team continues rise to prominence

After ending a 20-year state drought last season, the Royals are surging again and have vaulted to No. 3 in Class 3A in the new WSVCA poll.

Jackson High’s Ben Lee lunges to get to the ball against Kamiak on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022, at the Kamiak Tennis Courts in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep boys tennis season preview: Players and teams to watch

A look at the area’s top athletes and teams on the tennis court this fall.

Austin Roest prepares to take a wrist shot during the first day of Silvertips training camp on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Dad is an NHL bigwig, but Silvertips’ Roest carving his own path

The 19-year-old forward and son of Stanley Cup-winning executive Stacy Roest leads the Silvertips into the 2023-24 season.

Rich Haldi. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: Rich Haldi

The WSU alum and longtime EvCC athletic administrator helped found the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 11-17

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 11-17. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Arlington junior quarterback Leyton Martin throws a short pass during the second quarter of the season opener against Kamiak on Friday, Sep. 1, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
3 games to watch in Week 4 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 4.

Lakewood High School.
Refs blown call means Lakewood football game will restart in 3rd quarter

The Cougars dispute an incorrectly spotted ball by officials on a penalty-riddled play in the 3rd quarter. The game will resume from that point in Week 10.

Longtime Edmonds School District wrestling coach John Casebeer was also a member of the Snohomish County Wrestling Officials Association for 27 years. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: John Casebeer

The 1963 Edmonds graduate spent 30 successful years as a wrestling coach in the Edmonds School District.

Most Read