USF wasted little time driving the ball down the field for a field goal on its opening possession. The score brought the crowd to life and gave the Bulls some momentum until Karlos Williams took the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to set Florida State up in USF territory. Several plays later Rashad Greene scored on an end-around to put FSU up 7-3.
Later, after the Noles drove the ball nearly the length of the field, it took an official review to overturn a fumble that could have changed the complexion of the game. Midway through the second quarter and still up 7-3 — with the ball inside the Bulls’ 5-yard line — EJ Manuel attempted to flip an option to Chris Thompson that was recovered by USF. The momentum shift was short-lived, though, as replays showed Manuel was down before the ball came out and Florida State retained possession. Dustin Hopkins added a field goal on the following play to make it 10-3.
Hopkins Moves Up
With his 26-yard field goal in the second quarter, Dustin Hopkins passed Sebastian Janikowski for third in all-time field goals at Florida State with 67. Two kicks later, when Hopkins connected from 43-yards, he passed Xavier Beitia to move into second.
Special Teams Blunder
Last week against Clemson, a muffed punt ended up costing the Noles points. On Saturday night, USF blocked FSU’s first punt in the third quarter to get the ball inside the Noles’ 10. The Bulls punched it in three plays later to cut the FSU lead to 13-10.
USF coach Skip Holtz cut his teeth coaching as a graduate assistant at FSU from 1987-88. Holtz became the sixth former graduate assistant to coach against the Noles as a head coach. Others include Tommy Bowden (Clemson), Mack Brown (Texas), Lee Corso (Louisville) and Mark Richt (Georgia).
When 69,383 people came to Raymond James Stadium for the game, it set a USF attendance record and marked the first sellout at the venue since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 17, 2011.
Former Penn State tight end Kevin Haplea, who transferred to FSU in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, caught his first touchdown as a Nole in the third quarter to put Florida State up 20-10. Haplea scored his first collegiate touchdown as a Nittany Lion last season.
Florida State and South Florida’s teams are highly familiar, with nine different high schools accounting for 25 players between the two squads’ 72-man rosters. Tampa Hillsborough led the way with five players, while Lowndes (Ga.) had four and Thomas County (Ga.) and Tallahassee Lincoln had three apiece.
Light Travel Day
Seminole play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff didn’t have far to travel after Saturday night’s game. Deckerhoff, who has been on the call for Florida State for 34 years, is also the voice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Deckerhoff is one of four collegiate play-by-play announcers who also calls NFL games; on Sunday, the Bucs host the Washington Redskins in the same stadium.