USF Easy Winner In Bowl

Dec. 23, 2006

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - South Florida earned its first bowl victory, backed by a strong defense and some gambles that paid off.

Benjamin Williams rushed for two first-half touchdowns Saturday to help lead South Florida to a 24-7 victory over East Carolina in the inaugural Bowl.

The Bulls (9-4) played the final two quarters of a scoreless second half without quarterback Matt Grothe. The Big East freshman of the year was kicked in the right shin in the second quarter and returned only for the next and final series of the half, but the defense kept turning back East Carolina (7-6).

The decade-old program's only previous bowl appearance was a shutout loss in last year's Meineke Car Care Bowl. South Florida also tied its season high for wins set in 2002.

The Bulls went 5-for-5 on fourth-down conversions on drives that resulted in 17 points.

Struggling to make a comeback, the Pirates drove inside the South Florida 30 five times in the second half only to fall short. Sacks, a missed field goal, a fumble and a failed fourth-and-goal pass doomed the threats.

South Florida racked up six sacks, including two after East Carolina set up first down from the 4-yard line on that late drive led by backup quarterback Rob Kass.

In the first bowl game at Legion Field since the 1990 Hall of Fame, East Carolina outgained South Florida 317-286 in total yards.

The Bulls jumped ahead with two touchdowns in the first seven minutes. They kept three scoring drives alive with fourth-down conversions and got an early gift.

East Carolina's James Pinkney couldn't handle a low shotgun snap on the game's second play and South Florida recovered at the 16. Williams scored on a draw on the next play. He scored again on a 1-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal and finished with 67 yards on 17 carries.

Both quarterbacks came up with big touchdown passes after that. First, Pinkney hit Bobby Good for a 48-yard touchdown on third-and-26. Then, Grothe found Amarri Jackson for a 37-yarder on third-and-10. He returned for one series after being helped off the field but didn't play after that.

Grothe and backup Pat Julmiste were both efficient if not spectacular. Grothe was 6-for-10 for 81 yards. Julmiste was 6-of-8 for 49 yards.

Pinkney finished his college career with an ineffective performance. He completed just eight passes in 25 attempts for 125 yards and took a pounding from the South Florida defenders. Kass was 10-of-19 for 138 yards.

Good finished with five catches for 116 yards.

South Florida defensive coordinator Wally Burnham missed the game following the death of his mother, Cora Burnham, of congestive heart failure earlier in the day.



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