(Tampa, FL) Homecoming has not been kind to the USF Bulls, but that ended Saturday afternoon with a 45-24 victory over the Syracuse Orange, snapping a 5 game losing skid on alumni return weekend at Raymond James Stadium.
Marlon Mack rushed for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the Bulls (2-3, 0-1) to their second win of the season after three straight losses. Syracuse drops to 3-2.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulls took a 7-0 lead when Darius Tice grabbed a handoff from quarterback Quinton Flowers and plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out 44 seconds into the 2nd quarter capping an 11-play, 79 yard drive in 4:30.
Syracuse responded with a 16-play, 65 yard drive, chewing up more than ten minutes including successfully challenging a spot ruling to stay alive on fourth down at the USF 11 yard line, but were unable to score a touchdown and settled for a Cole Murphy 30 yard field goal to pull within 7-3 with 3:45 left in the first half.
After a muffed fair catch of a USF punt, Cameron Campbell recovered the ball at the Orange 24 yard line leading to a 21 yard Emilio Nadelman field goal. The Bulls led at halftime 10-3.
Marlon Mack scampered for a 25-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the third quarter as the Bulls kept it on the ground for a 6-play 75 yard drive in a minute and 56 seconds to extend its lead over the Orange, 17-3.
After a Syracuse punt on its next possession, Bulls QB Quinton Flowers hooked up with Riley Adams on 33-yard gain to the Syracuse 42. On the next play, Flowers connected with Ryeshene Bronson on a 42-yard touchdown pass opening a 24-3 margin with 9:53 left in the third quarter.
The Orange mounted a comeback as Jordan Fredericks caught a pass from quarterback Eric Dungey under pressure and escaped several Bull tacklers en route to a 30-yard touchdown in a 4-play 72-yard drive in 2:19. Syracuse stayed within two scores at 24-10.
Syracuse then recovered a quarterback sack fumble at the USF 16 yard line with 6:52 left 3rd quarter. Eric Dungey scored on a 7 yard keeper making it a one score game 24-17 with 5:41 left in the third frame.
Marlon Mack tallied his second TD of the game on a 45-yard run as the Bulls respond with a 3- play 75-yard drive in 52 seconds extending the Bulls lead to 31-17.
A 7-yard touchdown pass from Eric Dungey to Steve Ishmael lifted the Orange back to within 7, 31-24 with a 12 play 75 yard drive in 4 minutes 59 seconds.
Quinton Flowers ended the Orange hopes of coming back again with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one on a 2-yard run wrapping up a 15-play 82-yard drive in 5:40 seconds and another with a 14-yard touchdown shovel pass to Rodney Adams with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter sealing the victory 45-24.
Flowers completed 15 of 22 passes for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns for USF.
The Bulls travel to Connecticut next Saturday to face UConn in an AAC Conference game.
The Bulls came into today’s game with a three-game losing streak.
Game time temperature 86 degrees.
Today’s announced attendance: 27,235.
This was Homecoming weekend for the USF Bulls and alumni.
The last time USF played Syracuse was a 37-36 loss at Homecoming 2012.
Syracuse had won 6 of the previous 8 meetings between the two schools coming into today’s game.
The Orange have also won games in Tampa in the 1989 and 1992 “Hall of Fame” bowls.
Former Booker Tornado and Sarasota Sailor running back Marlon Mack came into the game with 392 yards rushing averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 98 yards per game. Mack has 1433 career rushing yards with USF, good for 9th place in school history.
Today was Marlon Mack’s seventh career 100 plus yard rushing game with the Bulls.
USF had lost five consecutive Homecoming games coming into today’s tilt with Syracuse. The Bulls last Homecoming win was over Louisville 34-22 in 2009.
Today’s game was broadcast on the CBS Sports cable network.
Both USF and Syracuse are former members of the Big East Conference from 2005-12.
The Bulls travel to Connecticut to face the UConn Huskies next Saturday, October 17th, (kickoff TBA) in an AAC conference game.
Next home game for USF is Saturday, October 24th against SMU in an AAC conference game kickoff at 7:30 PM. It will also be Military Appreciation Day at Raymond James Stadium.
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