TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Mike White passed for 113 yards and a touchdown in the rain, leading South Florida to a 17-14 victory over Connecticut on Friday night.
White threw 30 yards to Rodney Adams and Marlon Mack ran a yard for first-quarter touchdowns that provided USF’s defense with most of the help the Bulls needed to win the American Athletic Conference opener.
The Bulls (2-2, 1-0) rebounded from a 49-17 loss to North Carolina State in which they were limited to 159 yards total offense, with nearly half of that coming on White’s 75-yard TD pass to Ryeshene Bronson. They matched their victory for all of last season, when they beat Cincinnati and UConn before ending the year on a six-game conference skid.
Chris Dunkley sacked UConn’s Chandler Whitmer, forcing a fumble that the USF cornerback recovered at the Huskies 19 to set up Mack’s TD for a quick 7-0 lead. White’s scoring pass to a wide-open Adams on fourth-and-10 made it 14-0 late in the opening quarter, and the Bulls added a fourth-quarter field goal to make it 17-7.
UConn pulled with three points on Whitmer’s 32-yard TD pass to Geremy Davis with 1:19 remaining. USF recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
It was another close game in a series USF leads 7-5. The last eight meetings have been decided by seven or fewer points, and neither team has scored more than 19 in the last five matchups.
UConn (1-3, 0-1) scored on Byron Jones’ 70-yard interception return just before halftime, but had little success moving the ball on offense until their final possession of the night.
The Huskies managed just 41 yards and on 18 plays in the first half and finished with a season-low 145 yards overall — more than half coming on the drive that ended with Whitmer’s TD pass to Davis.
UConn didn’t pick up its second first down of the night until Arkeel Newsome broke a 16-yard run midway through the third quarter. Three plays later, Whitmer got his first completion.
The Bulls’ domination wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard up to that point, though, because of Jones’ interception of a pass that glanced off the hands of Adams just before halftime. The UConn cornerback came close to stepping out of bound as he crossed midfield on the runback, however the touchdown stood following a replay review.
Whitmer finished 6 of 10 for 88 yards and no interceptions. The TD pass to Davis extended the receiver’s streak of consecutive games with at least one catch to 30.
A week after yielding 589 yards to North Carolina State, the USF defense limited UConn to 57 rushing and didn’t allow the Huskies offense to cross midfield until the final two minutes.
Mack rushed for 103 yards on 31 carries for the Bulls, and White completed 10 of 18 passes with one interception.
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