Rutgers Tops South Florida In OT, 20-17
San San Te kicked a 37-yard field goal in overtime and Rutgers snapped a two-game losing streak and become bowl eligible with a 20-17 victory over South Florida on Saturday night.
Duron Harmon intercepted a pass to stop South Florida's possession in the overtime and the Scarlet Knights (6-3, 3-2 Big East) ran three plays before settling for Te's second field goal of the game.
Chas Dodd replaced freshman Gary Nova at the start of the fourth quarter and threw a game-tying 34-yard touchdown pass to Brendan Coleman with 1:08 to play.
The score would have been for naught had Maikon Bonani not missed a 27-yard field goal on the final play of regulation for South Florida (4-4, 0-4), which lost its fourth straight.
Rutgers became bowl eligible just a year after going 4-8 to miss the postseason for the first time in five years.
The game didn't look good for the Scarlet Knights after they fell behind 17-3 midway through the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run by Demetris Murray that capped an 89-yard drive.
However, Jeremy Deering returned the ensuring kickoff 98 yards to cut the gap to 17-10. It tied the third-longest kickoff return in school history.
Rutgers then tied the game with an 80-yard, 12 play drive that Dodd capped with his pass to Coleman. Dodd (11 of 17 for 125 yards) hit Mohamed Sanu seven times for 60 yards on the drive, including one spectacular one-handed, fourth down catch to keep the march alive.
South Florida had a chance to win the game in the waning seconds when B.J. Daniels hit Murray on a 34-yard pass and then ran 30 yards to give the Bulls a first-and-goal at the 10. But Bonani badly mishit a chip-shot 27-yard field goal on the final play of regulation and it went wide left forcing the overtime.
Daniels threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Victor Marc and Bonani kicked a 43-yard field goal for South Florida in the first half.
Trailing 10-0 at the half, Rutgers got back in the game on a 33-yard field goal by Te after Pat Kivlehan recovered a fumble by Victor Marc at the Bulls 12.
The defenses dominated the first half, with South Florida limiting Rutgers to 87 yards, including minus-4 yards rushing.
The game was scoreless until the Bulls tallied on their final two possessions of the half.
Daniels got the Bulls in gear with a 21-yard scamper on the first play of what turned out to be an eight-play, 58-yard touchdown drive. South Florida converted two third-and-short plays to keep the drive alive and Daniels hit Marc on a middle screen from 23 yards out on a second-and-18 play on which Rutgers got caught in a blitz.
The Scarlet Knights were in position to get on the board on the next series when Nova hit Coleman for 30 yards to the Bulls 43. Rutgers eventually got the South Florida 33 but Nova was sacked on consecutive plays with defensive end Ryne Giddins forcing a fumble, recoving it and returning it near midfield.
After a couple of first downs for USF, Bonani kicked a 43-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the half for a 10-0 lead.