TAMPA (WFLA) – The USF football team posted its first win of the 2022 campaign using a dominating rushing performance alongside three turnovers from the defense to post a 42-20 victory over Howard at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday Night.
The Bulls improved their record to 1-1 giving them momentum going into next week’s contest at No. 12 Florida.
USF logged six rushing touchdowns, its most in a game since posting six at Charleston Southern in 2003, and 205 yards on the ground in a strong performance from the offensive line and several running backs, four of whom scored touchdowns.
Sophomore Brian Battie led the offense with 105 rushing yards, logging his third career 100-yd rushing game on just seven carries (15 ypc) and a career long 60-yard touchdown scamper. Senior Jaren Mangham logged 28 rushing yards with two touchdowns, posting his 17tth and 18th USF career rushing touchdown to tie him for eighth all-time at USF. Junior Clemson transfer Michel Dukes posted 34 rushing yards while logging his first USF career touchdowns, one in the second quarter and another on a 28-yard run in the third.
Meanwhile, the defense handled things on their end by forcing three turnovers, equaling their most posted in a game in the 2021 season. Sophomore safety Jayden Curry, making his first career start for an injured Matthew Hill, posted an interception and a fumble recovery.
Howard started off strong and kept the game close in the opening half, getting an interception on the Bulls’ opening possession. The Bison then marched 80 yards on their second possession for the game’s opening score on an 18-yard touchdown run from Kasey Hawthorne.
The lead was short lived as the USF defense made a statement in the second quarter. The Bulls forced fumbles on the Bison’s next two possessions. Defensive end Jatorian Hansford forced his first career fumble, recovered by Curry on the USF40. The Bulls took advantage going 63-yards and scoring on a Mangham two-yard plunge to tie the game, 7-7.
On the next Bison possession, safety T-Mac Simpson forced his first career fumble, which was recovered by Rashawn Yates for his career first recovery at the USF 41. Quarterback Gerry Bohanon drove the Bulls 59 yards, sealing the deal with a handoff to Dukes for a 7-yard touchdown to push the USF lead to 14-7 at the half.
USF continued to build momentum in the second half, steamrolling Howard for 150 of the Bulls 205 rushing yards on the night. Curry posted his first career interception midway into the third quarter and the Bulls capitalized, driving 25 yards to stretch the lead to 21-7 with a rushing touchdown by Mangham.
Howard was able to create a touchdown drive at the end of the third quarter to make the score 21-14, but the spark was short lived as the Bulls scored three unanswered touchdowns to make the final score 42-20 after drives of 61, 69 and 54 yards. The Bulls scored touchdowns on six of seven possessions around halftime to seal the win.
The defense was led by linebacker DJ Gordon, starting in place of an injured Antonio Grier, with career highs of seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.