Written by Erik Slaby
Tampa, FL – On a hot, humid day at Raymond James Stadium, both the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and South Florida Bulls put on a show for all who were watching. It was a close and exciting game for the most part, with South Florida defeating Georgia Tech, 49-38.
From the star, it looked like Georgia Tech was more energized than South Florida as they intercepted South Florida quarterback Blake Barnett on the fourth play of the game, deep in South Florida territory. Georgia Tech was able to capitalize on the miscues with a 35-yard field goal from kicker Brenton King. South Florida quickly responded with a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown from Terrance Horne Jr. That play started a back and forth scoring barrage between both teams.
Georgia Tech answered that score with a five play, 75-yard scoring drive of their own, capped off by a 45-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback TaQuon Marshall. South Florida came right back with another kickoff return for a touchdown by Horne Jr. This time it was a 97-yard return. It was the first time in school history that one player had two kick returns for touchdowns. The quick scores continued with Marshall completed a short pass to back Clinton Lynch, who took the pass 81-yards for the touchdown. With this score, Georgia Tech took a 17-14 lead and stopped the scoring barrage for a short while.
After one score by South Florida in the second quarter, the scoring in the third quarter was dominated by Georgia Tech. Backup quarterback Tobias Oliver led the way with two touchdowns in the third quarter to give Georgia Tech their first lead since the first quarter. Oliver added another touchdown in the beginning of the fourth quarter to give Georgia Tech a 38-28 lead over South Florida. Oliver finished with three rushing touchdowns.
With 14:15 left in the fourth quarter, South Florida would get the ball back and began their comeback with an eight-play, 76-yard drive that ended in a three-yard touchdown pass from Barnett to Horne Jr. to cut the Georgia Tech lead to three. Georgia Tech got the ball back and was moving down the field with ease, looking like they were going to score when disaster struck for them. Georgia Tech running back Qua Searcy was carrying the ball in South Florida territory when he fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Bulls inside linebacker Nico Sawtelle. The Bulls capitalized on that miscues and drove 88-yards, in 10 plays for a 19-yard rushing touchdown by Barnett to take a four-point lead.
On Georgia Tech’s next drive, Sawtelle and the South Florida defense came up clutch again as Sawtelle intercepted Marshall and returned the ball 22 yards to the Georgia Tech 18-yard line, putting the Bulls in prime position to score and milk the clock. South Florida was able to drain 1:34 off the clock and Barnett scored on a five-yard rushing touchdown, bringing the score to 49-38. 2:13 was left on the clock but unfortunately, it did not matter as Georgia Tech wasn’t able to score.
Barnett led the way in passing for South Florida, completing 21 of 31 passes for 201 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also led the team in rushing with 16 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Tyre McCants led the team in receiving with 10 catches for 99 yards. Marshall led Georgia Tech in passing, completing 9 of 18 passes for 183 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 13 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown. Lynch led the team in receiving with three catches for 111 yards. He was the first receiver since 2015 to have over 100 yards receiving in a game for Georgia Tech.
This is a huge win for South Florida over a Power Five conference opponent in Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech was one of South Florida’s toughest opponents on their schedule and they showed out well against them. South Florida will go on the road next week and faceoff against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Soldier Field, 3:30PM EST. Georgia Tech will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers at Heinz Field, 12:30PM EST.