PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Andre Hall ran for 168 yards and three
touchdowns and South Florida scored 28 points off six Rutgers'
turnovers on the way to a 45-31 win over the Scarlet Knights on
Saturday, the Bulls' first game in 21 days.
Despite two defensive scores in the span of 1:26 in the first
quarter and a 20-point lead late in the third, South Florida (4-3,
2-1 Big East) needed to hold off the Scarlet Knights at the end.
Down 37-17 late in the third quarter, Rutgers (6-3, 3-2) came
back to make it 37-31 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Brian Leonard
and a 4-yard scoring catch by Clark Harris. The Scarlet Knights got
the ball back with 11:47 left in the game, but a fumble by
quarterback Ryan Hart ended the drive. Coming into the game,
Rutgers had lost one fumble all season.
Rutgers got another chance with 6:39 left after blocking a
22-yard field goal attempt by Kyle Bronson. But backup quarterback
Mike Teel, in for an shaken-up Hart, threw an interception with
4:02 remaining to end the Scarlet Knights' final chance.
The Bulls took control late in the opening quarter when Johnnie
Jones picked off Hart and returned the interception 32 yards to
make it 14-0. South Florida needed just 86 seconds to go up by
three scores. This time, Hart fumbled after being hit by defensive
end Jason Allen. Terrence Royal scooped up the ball and returned it
11 yards for a touchdown.
Royal also set up a later 2-yard touchdown run by Hall by
picking off a tipped pass from Hart.
Hart finished 15-for-25 for 217 yards and three touchdowns. But
he threw three costly interceptions -- he became the school's
all-time leader in that category -- and fumbled twice. Ray Rice
rushed for 158 yards for the Scarlet Knights.
South Florida quarterback Pat Julmiste was 13-for-21 for 135
yards and ran for a 1-yard score.
It was a disheartening loss for Rutgers, which became bowl
eligible for the first time since 1992 by beating Navy last week.
The Scarlet Knights -- long one of college football's punching bags
-- were trying to start 7-2 for the first time since 1979.
South Florida hadn't played since a 31-17 loss to Pittsburgh on
Oct. 15. In the ensuing weeks, it had two scheduled byes and a game
against West Virginia postponed until Dec. 3 because of Hurricane
The Bulls certainly looked rested when the game began. After
forcing the Scarlet Knights to go three and out on the game's first
drive, South Florida went 83 yards in 10 plays, taking a 7-0 lead
when Hall went in from 2 yards out.
The two defensive scores then put South Florida up 21-0.