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Ford Leads Bulls Past Phoenix 28-13

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Courtesy USF

Ford Leads Bulls Past Phoenix 28-13

TAMPA, Fla. – On the strength of three touchdowns from Mike Ford and a defensive effort led by George Selvie’s four sacks, the University of South Florida football team defeated the Elon Phoenix, 28-13, Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.

The four sacks from Selvie ties the USF single-game record set by Shurron Pierson in 2002 against Southern Miss. 

On the offensive front, the Bulls first score of the 2007 season featured Matt Grothe rolling out to his left and connecting with a wide open Ford on a one-yard pass at the end of a 10-play, 73-yard drive with 12:40 left in the second quarter. 

“Mike did a nice job,” said head coach Jim Leavitt.  “He ran well.  Obviously we got to look at him.”

“I didn’t know it was going to be a pass,” said Ford. “We do practice passing out of the backfield.  It happened and I was surprised.  I really never caught a touchdown pass since I played in high school.”

Elon broke through at the 10:21 mark in the second quarter on a 37-yard field goal by kicker Andrew Wilcox.  The drive was highlighted by a 41-yard pass from quarterback Scott Riddle to wideout Michael Mayers, which set up the score after the Phoenix moved the ball 56 yards in seven plays that only took 2:19.

The Bulls ended another Phoenix drive with 4:12 left in the second quarter as Nate Allen registered his first-career interception on a pass from Riddle on the four-yard line.   

In the first half, USF gained seven first downs, while Elon managed three.  The Phoenix gained only 12 net yards on five carries while the Bulls managed 37 yards on 13 carries. 

Grothe completed 14 passes on 25 attempts for 122 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart, Riddle, posted similar numbers with 16 completions on 22 attempts for 115 yards.

Taurus Johnson led the Bulls in receiving in the first half with four catches for 45 yards. 

At 10:35 in the third, Ford broke free for a 21-yard run and his second touchdown of the night. Delbert Alvarado tacked on his second extra point to make it a 14-3 USF advantage. 

USF took a 14-point lead with 3:04 left in the third as Grothe found Amarri Jackson at in the third for a 24-yard completion. Jackson eluded two tackles to find the end zone.  Alvarado added the extra point to make the score 21-6.

Elon stayed close until Ford eliminated any chance for a comeback when he broke a tackle to race 48 yards to set up his 1-yard touchdown run with just over seven minutes to go.  The Sarasota native averaged nearly 14 yards per carry on six attempts in the game.

Grothe completed a fine night and was 23-of-39 passing for 238 yards, with two TDs and no interceptions.

Wilcox kicked a pair of 37-yard field goals for Elon and the Phoenix made it interesting in the closing minutes when Scott Riddle threw a 28-yard TD pass to Terrell Hudgins to finish a 10-play, 72-yard drive.

Elon recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the Bulls’ defense stepped up and prevented it from advancing the ball to the close the game out.

The USF football team will travel to Auburn, Ala., next Saturday to battle the No. 19 Tigers at 9 p.m. 

Game Notes

Defensively, George Selvie recorded four sacks, tying Shurron Pierson for the team record.  Pierson recorded four sacks against Southern Miss in 2002.

On the fourth play of Elon’s second drive, Jarriett Buie recovered his first fumble thanks to a George Selvie sack. 

The Bulls first score of the 2007 season happened on a 10-play, 73-yard drive highlighted by Mike Ford’s first-career touchdown on a one yard pass from Matt Grothe with 12:40 left in the second quarter.  The TD was Grothe’s 16th of his career.

Nate Allen tallied his first-career interception at 4:12 in the second quarter on the 4-yard line against Elon’s Scott Riddle.

The first half saw USF gain seven first downs while Elon managed three.  The Phoenix gained only 12 net yards on five carries while the Bulls managed 37 yards on 13 carries. 

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