TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In front of an enthusiastic Raymond James crowd of 36,495, the USF Football team posted its first win under first-year head coach Alex Golesh Saturday as the Bulls downed Florida A&M 38-24. The Bulls are now 1-1.
This was the Bulls first home-opener win since 2020, and Golesh became the fifth USF head coach to win their home debut. In doing so, USF snapped a 10-game winning streak for FAMU, which has posted back-to-back nine-win seasons.
South Florida forced three turnovers in the first quarter alone and harassed FAMU quarterback Jeremy Moussa with a variety of blitz packages all night. The Bulls ended the game having forced five turnovers and recording four sacks while committing no turnovers themselves.
In the first quarter, safeties Logan Berryhill and Jaelen Stokes both recorded their first career interceptions and linebacker Jamie Pettway forced a fumble on a kickoff that was recovered by Mac Harris. Berryhill got another interception in the second half and D.J. Harris recovered a fumble forced by Jhalyn Shuler.
Quarterback Byrum Brown recorded his first victory as a starter, scoring five touchdowns on the night—two rushing and three passing. Brown completed 20-of-34 passes for 197 yards and added 23 yards rushing. Sean Atkins lead the Bulls with five catches for 57 yards, including a stunning first quarter finger-tip grab. Naiem Simmons made an additional three catches for 59 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown. Linebacker DJ Gordon led the Bulls with seven tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
FAMU received the opening kickoff and came out quick driving 78 yards to take a 7-0 lead, but USF quickly established control with a 75-yard drive of its own on the Bulls’ opening possession. A 7-yard pass from Brown to Khafre Brown, the second touchdown connection for the pair in two games, capped the drive.
The Bulls forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and recovered it at the FAMU 17. USF quickly drove the 17 yards for a touchdown, with Brown’s 8-yard run giving the Bulls a 14-7 lead.
USF forced interceptions on back-to-back FAMU possessions in the first quarter, but came away with just three more points and a 17-7 lead after a 27-yard John Cannon field goal just seconds into the second quarter.
The Bulls led 24-14 into half-time.
FAMU closed a 10-point Bulls halftime lead to 7 with a field goal on their first possession of the second half, but Brown extended the Bulls lead to 31-17 three possessions later when he capped a 53-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run, his second of the night.
After forcing a punt on the Bulls’ next possession, FAMU came back early in the fourth quarter when Jeremy Moussa hit Kelvin Dean with 45-yard touchdown pass to get back within a touchdown and trail 31-24 with 10:04 to play.
The Bulls responded quickly when Brown hit Naiem Simmons streaking up the left sideline for a 31-yard touchdown with 7:39 to play to make it 38-24.
The Bulls next oponant is the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 3:30 p.m. The Tide rolls into Raymond James Stadium with a 1-1 record after a 34-24 home loss to the Texas Longhorns in Tuscaloosa last Saturday. Per Brett McMurphy, this will be Alabama’s 4th non-conference true road game under Nick Saban.