Rutgers left Tampa Thursday night with a win over South Florida in the Big East opener for both teams. The Scarlet Knights had some bad penalties and stalled drives, but they did not turn the ball over. South Florida, on the other hand, gave up the pigskin four times, the difference in a game that didn't see a long touchdown drive until the fourth quarter.
The score was 6-3 in favor of the Bulls at halftime. South Florida had two drives end in field goals in the first quarter and saw a 58-yard connection between quarterback B.J. Daniels and receiver Terrence Mitchell end in naught when Rutgers' Brandon Jones made a fantastic, tumbling pick of a Daniels pass at the 23-yard line.
The Scarlet Knights' Kyle Federico hit a 52-yard field goal as time expired in the half to put his team on the board. Rutgers took control in the third quarter by scoring 10 points off two South Florida turnovers in the first five minutes of the half. Mitchell muffed a punt after the Bulls forced a three-and-out on Rutgers' first possession of the half, leading to a tying field goal. Daniels was then intercepted by Jamal Merrell on South Florida's second play of the half. Gary Nova then connected with Mark Harrison for a six-yard touchdown to put the Knights up 13-6. Another Daniels interception stopped a South Florida drive into Rutgers territory at the end of the third.
South Florida put together the first lengthy offensive drive for either team at the beginning of the fourth quarter, going 69 yards in nine plays. Demetris Murray finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown burst with 9:48 left to play.
After an exchange of punts, Rutgers drove to the South Florida 3-yard line, where they settled for another Federico field goal to go up 16-13. Most of the yards on that drive came on a 45-yard hookup between Nova and Timothy Wright, who led both teams in receiving on the night with nine catches for 131 yards.
Jawan Jamison finished off the Bulls with a 41-yard touchdown run with 2:13 to go. The Scarlet Knights tailback made a nifty move to spring himself for his only score on a night he carried the ball 40 times for 147 yards.
Rutgers moves to 3-0 (1-0 Big East) on the 2012 season. South Florida falls to 2-1 on the year (0-1 Big East).
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