University of South Florida junior RB Demetris Murray reached a personal milestone in Friday night's game at Syracuse, becoming the 13th player in program history to reach 1,000 rushing yards in his career.
Murray entered the game 35 yards shy of the mark. He had 33 yards on seven carries in the opening half and hit the milestone on his first carry in the fourth quarter. After carrying once in the third quarter for no gain, he hit the mark with a 5-yard run.
Murray got the start in place of junior Darrell Scott, who had been limited in practice all week while recovering from a concussion and a left wrist injury sustained during last week's loss to Rutgers. Scott dressed for the game but did not see any action.
USF's first touchdown Friday came one play after a gutsy call on fourth down.
The Bulls were facing fourth-and-1 at the Syracuse 5 early in the second quarter when coach Skip Holtz opted to keep his offense on the field. Murray took the handoff and plunged ahead for 1 yard to give USF a fresh set of downs, and sophomore Marcus Shaw scored on a 4-yard run on the next play to give the Bulls a 10-0 lead.
It was the seventh fourth-down play for USF this season, and the third conversion.
Prime field position late in the second quarter helped USF produce its 15th touchdown drive of less than two minutes this season.
A kickoff out of bounds coupled with a personal foul call on Syracuse set the Bulls up at the Orange 45 with 3:52 to play before halftime. Two plays and 25 seconds later, USF was celebrating its second touchdown of the night.
Junior QB B.J. Daniels connected with freshman WR Andre Davis on a 43-yard pass to start things off, and Daniels scored on a 2-yard run on the next play.
The catch for Davis, a former Jefferson High product, was the longest of his career.
Penalties cripple drive
USF's penalty numbers in the first half weren't too bad, with four flags for 39 yards in the opening 30 minutes. The Bulls equaled that number in the first four minutes of the second half, all on one drive.
The first came on the opening kick of the half, which forced the Bulls to start the drive at their 10. But the next three proved the most costly, as each came in the red zone.
After driving to the Syracuse 13, USF was called for penalties on three consecutive plays — an illegal substitution, a hold that wiped out a Lindsey Lamar 18-yard touchdown run, and another hold that put USF in a first-and-25 situation.
The drive ended with a 35-yard field goal from Maikon Bonani, which gave the Bulls a 23-10 lead.
Rivals.com reported Admiral Farragut's Rayshawn Jenkins, who committed to the Bulls in March, has backed off that pledge and re-opened his recruitment. … USF has scored first in all nine games this season. … Though Holtz had said early in the week a change could be made at punter, junior Justin Brockhaus-Kann continued to handle the duties against Syracuse. … USF has committed at least one turnover in every Big East game this season, a streak kept alive when junior WR Victor Marc fumbled through the end zone in the third quarter while diving for the goal line.