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November 10, 2007

Bulls dominate mistake prone Orange

Game Ticker | box score

SYRACUSE, N.Y.(AP) Matt Grothe threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, freshman tailback Mike Ford ran for a season-high 134 yards and two TDs, and South Florida beat mistake-prone Syracuse 41-10 on Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Bulls (7-3, 2-3 Big East) had suffered three straight losses after starting the season 6-0 and moving to second in the national rankings.

Those setbacks featured 11 turnovers. Against Cincinnati a week ago, USF lost four fumbles and threw four interceptions, allowed 31 points in the first quarter, and still only lost 38-33.

The Bulls finally got the upper hand against struggling Syracuse (2-8, 1-4). The Orange committed two costly turnovers early that USF converted into touchdowns and pretty much established control of the game against one of the worst offensive teams in the nation.

Syracuse, ranked near the bottom nationally in total offense (282.7 yards per game) and rushing (68.7 ypg), managed just nine first downs through the first three quarters and finished with 15 yards rushing and 291 overall. The Orange have been outscored 229-90 in six home games.

The unraveling began quickly. Max Suter fumbled the opening kickoff for the Orange and Dylan Douglas recovered for the Bulls at the Syracuse 26. Ford scored four plays later on a 1-yard run.

After Delbe Alvarado kicked a 42-yard field goal to give USF a 10-0 lead, Syracuse turned it over again. Backup quarterback Cameron Dantley, making his first career start in place of the injured Andrew Robinson, tried to throw the ball away as he was being tackled and was intercepted, the ball ricocheting off the helmet of one of his linemen and into the hands of defensive tackle Allen Cray near midfield.

Aston Samuels gained 26 yards around the left side on first down, and four plays later Grothe found Carlton Mitchell all alone in the middle of the end zone with a 15-yard TD pass for a 17-0 lead.

Syracuse broke through on the final play of the half, a 50-yard field goal by Patrick Shadle after Joe Fields intercepted Grothe near the Syracuse goal line.

From there, Grothe took charge. He threw a big block to free Mitchell on a reverse for a 15-yard gain to key the first possession of the second half, then scored two plays later on a 5-yard run to make it 27-3.

Dantley then hit a leaping Mike Williams in the back of the end zone to make it 27-10. It was the seventh straight game Williams has caught a TD pass, extending his school record.

The jubilation was short-lived. Grothe, who was 15-of-22 for 181 yards passing and rushed for 73 yards, answered again on the Bulls' next possession. Grothe hit Taurus Johnson for 22 yards to set up Ford's 1-yard TD run.

Grothe completed the rout with a 9-yard scoring pass to Johnson with 1:40 left in the third to cap a 12-play, 82-yard drive.

Despite his costly error, Suter set a Big East record for kickoff return yards in a season, increasing his total to 1,041 on a school-record 45 returns. Will Blackmon of Boston College had the previous conference record with 922 in 2003.



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