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article imageNCAAF: USF overcomes rain delays to beat Notre Dame 23-20

By Austin Tyler     Sep 4, 2011 in Sports
South Bend - The game was a disaster as for the weather and the #16 Notre Dame Irish who lost the first game of the season. The game was held off for 2 hours and 10 minutes at halftime and then was delayed again for 43 minutes later on.
The USF Bulls went to South Bend to take on the #16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in game that matched up the #16 team in the nation verses a team that not even closed to be ranked until probably after this win. Lou Holtz who was a legendary coach for the Fighting Irish attended the game to watch his son Skip Holtz take on his former team. It did not look like the weather was going to play a factor like this during the game as when it started the sky was so bright.
The start of the game looked like the Fighting Irish was going to have a good day as their opening drive went 76-yards in 8 plays. Dayne Crist (7/15, 95 yards, 1 Int) hit Cierre Wood (3 receptions, 44 yards) for a 31 yard pass. Crist then hit Michael Floyd (12 receptions, 154 yards, 2 TD’s) a 26 yard pass. Woods (21 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD) carried the Irish the rest of the drive, but Jonas Gray (4 carries, 17 yards) was the one to try and run the ball in, but was stripped USF’s Jerrell Young and recovered by Kayvon Webster who returned the fumble 98-yards to score the game’s first touchdown. That gave the Bulls a early 7-0 lead over the Irish.
Notre Dame got the ball back and handed the ball off to Wood who tried to move the Irish offense. The offense struggled after getting a first down and had to punt the ball away. USF took over and moved the ball 41-yards on their drive in 8 plays. B.J. Daniels (12 carries, 37 yards) ran for a first down and hit Sterling Griffin (8 receptions, 75 yards) for another first down. That is where it ended as they were forced to kick a field-goal. Maikon Bonani came on to kick a 49-yard field-goal for the Bulls and give them a 10-0 lead.
The Irish continued to struggle as they went three and out on their next drive and had to punt the ball away again. The Bulls took over after the punt and moved the ball 39 yards this time as they got in position to kick another field-goal. Bonani came on to kick a 17-yarder this time and gave them a 13-0 lead, all in the first quarter.
Notre Dame got the ball back and began to move the ball again as they went 61-yards on this drive in 11 plays. Moving the ball mostly on the ground with Woods, the Irish took a chance with Crist throwing the ball only to have it intercepted by Devekeyan Lattimore. Lattimore picked off Crist pass as he was throwing it in to the endzone and Bulls got a touchback.
USF offense continued to move, but could not get in the endzone. This drive the Bulls went 45-yards in 11 plays, but had to settle for a field-goal in the end. Bonani came on to attempt a 52-yard field-goal, but he missed it giving the Irish decent field position.
The Irish offense struggled on this drive as they went three and out only moving the ball 5-yards before they punted the ball away. The USF offense struggled as well going three and out after Daniels fumbled and recovered the ball for a loss. USF punted the ball away, but Theo Riddick of Notre Dame fumbled the punt and Victor Marc of the Bulls recovered it. The Bulls could move the ball again going three and out, but this time was able to kick a field-goal. Bonani gave the Bulls a 16-0 lead 4:04 left in the game.
Both teams struggled the rest of the half as neither could move the ball with both teams going three and out on their final possessions.
The score was 16-0 going into halftime and the game was delayed 2 hours and 10 minutes. The fans were even asked to leave the stadium due to the severe weather. The problem with playing in the rain is the lighting and it was striking all around the stadium during the delay.
The Bulls came out after the delay and had trouble moving the ball again as they went three and out being forced to punt the ball away. The Irish took over after the punt and had a whole new quarterback in with Tommy Rees (24/34, 296 yards, 2 TDs, 2 Ints) moving the ball for them. 1st and goal for the Irish Rees dropped back to pass and had his pass picked off by Michael Lanaris. This was the second interception the Irish threw in the redzone.
USF could not take advantage of the interception as they went 5 plays and 17 yards before punting the ball back to the Irish. Rees got the Irish moving on the next drive as they went 66 yards in 5 plays with big gains of 37-yards on a pass to Tyler Eifert (6 receptions, 93 yards), and 24-yard touchdown pass to Floyd. That was the Fighting Irish first touchdown and score of the game, making it a 16-7 game.
The Bulls could not moved the ball on their next drive as they only mustard 11 yards in 6 plays. The Irish took over on the ensuing drive went 54-yards. Notre Dame could not get to the endzone, and settled for a field-goal. David Ruffer came in to attempt a 30-yard field-goal, but missed it. With 4:21 left in the third quarter the game was delayed 43 minutes due to bad lightning flickering around the stadium.
USF got the ball moving on the next drive as they went 80-yards in 14 plays. Daniels started moving the ball in the air, but Demetris Murray (14 carries, 40 yards) took over on the ground the rest of the way. USF got a break when they got a pass interference call that gave them a first down. Daniels (18/30, 128 yards, 1 TD) threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Evan Landi (3 receptions, 14 yards 1 TD). The Bulls took a 23-7 lead over the Irish early in the fourth.
Rees moved the ball down the field for the Irish again going 76-yards in 12 plays. Rees was mostly hitting Floyd on the drive as he hit him 4 out of 5 times he was targeted on this drive. Wood capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that made it a 23-13. This drive was a quick answer to the USF drive and put them right back in the game down by 10points.
The Bulls struggled to move the ball with their chance to answer to the Irish drive as they went 28-yards before punting the ball away. Rees on the second play of the Irish drive after the punt threw another interception. Jerrell Young caused his second turnover of the game with this interception.
USF could do nothing with this turnover either as they went three and out actually losing 2-yards during the drive. Rees came back and moved the Irish down the field again using his arm. Rees hit Eifert and TJ Jones (6 receptions, 58 yards) on this drive, but finished it with another touchdown pass to Floyd. Rees hit Floyd on an 8-yard pass that made it a 23-20 game.
The Irish tried to kick an onside kick but to no avail. USF recovered and took a knee to end the game with .21 seconds left on the clock.
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