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(Saturday, September 27th)
Final Score: (13) South Florida 41, North Carolina State 10
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Matt Grothe threw for 259 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-29 passing, and three different backs rushed for a score as No. 13 South Florida posted an impressive 41-10 win over the NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Grothe also ran for 68 yards on nine attempts while Mike Ford, Moise Plancher and Jamar Taylor scored on the ground for the Bulls (5-0), who finished up non-conference play with their 11th straight regular season non-conference victory and sixth straight on the road.
South Florida's vaunted defensive unit swarmed the ball and came up with three interceptions while holding the Wolfpack to 265 total yards of offense and a stingy 26 yards rushing.
"I was really happy with all three phases of our game," USF head coach Jim Leavitt said. "I know coming in our coaches thought we could throw the ball on them (NC State). We had a lot of things open up underneath that we noticed and were able to exploit. Matt (Grothe) had a pretty good night and our backs all ran hard. I'm proud of all of them."
Harrison Beck had a hard time getting anything going under center for the Wolfpack, completing just nine passes on 32 attempts for 239 yards and the three picks. Beck was the team's third starting quarterback in five games after redshirt freshman Russell Wilson was injured in last week's game and unavailable to play.
Andre Brown, coming off his best effort of the season, was held to 39 yards on nine carries but caught two balls for 85 yards. Owen Spencer had three grabs for 94 yards for NC State (2-3), which was coming off its biggest win of the season, a 30-24 overtime upset of then-15th-ranked East Carolina last weekend. It was the highest ranked opponent that the Wolfpack have defeated since upending ninth-ranked Florida State in 2005.
"We have seven conference games staring us in the face, and that's the most important part of our season. We just have to prepare and put this game behind us," NC State head coach Tom O'Brien said.
The Bulls started by taking the opening possession 76 yards with Taylor finishing things off with a one-yard score for a 7-0 lead 3 1/2 minutes in.
NC State responded by taking the ball 67 yards on its first possession and Josh Czajkowski hit a 32-yard field goal halfway through the first quarter to make it 7-3.
A quick ensuing drive form USF that featured four first downs in just over three minutes ended with Grothe hitting Carlton Mitchell for a nine-yard touchdown. A Wolfpack punt set the Bulls up at their own 19 and a lengthy drive, that began with 2 1/2 minutes to go in the first, stretched to the second before Ford found the end zone from one yard out for a 21-3 lead.
NC State attempted to punt on its next turn with the ball but a mishandled snap resulted in a safety with 10 1/2 to play before halftime.
Maikon Bonani missed on a 44-yard field goal attempt on the Bulls' next possession but USF caught a break when Beck watched a 2nd-and-20 snap sail past him from the NC State 17 on the Wolfpack's next turn. Beck chased the ball down and chose to kick it out the back of his own end zone for another safety. Bonani then booted a 20-yarder with just under 2 1/2 minutes to play in the half to make it a 28-3 game.
T.J. Graham gave the Wolfpack life by returning the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the USF 47. Beck shook off a false start and a sack before connecting with Spencer for a 48-yard gain to the USF one, where Brown took it in on the next play, cutting the lead to 28-10.
USF was left with just 58 seconds with which to work but a 32-yard pass to Marcus Edwards helped set up a Bonani boot from 32 yards as time expired for a 31-10 halftime score.
"(USF's) better than what we saw on tape this past week," O'Brien said. "The quarterback was outstanding. He runs the offense well. (Matt) Grothe manages the game well and he's throwing the ball better this year than he did last year."
The USF defense set the tone for the second half as NC State started with the ball but watched Jerome Murphy pick off a Beck pass. USF punted for the first time on its next turn and NC State moved the ball to the USF nine-yard line courtesy of a 49-yard reception by Brown. But the Wolfpack could move only as far as the two-yard line before turning the ball over on downs trying to score six with just under seven minutes to play in the third.
A Wolfpack punt and Beck's second pick were sandwiched around another Bonani boot, this time from 44 yards with 13:54 remaining in the game. USF used the turnover to put an exclamation point on the win with a 64-yard drive in under three minutes as Plancher ran it in for a 10-yard score to make up the 41-10 final.
NC State and USF had met just one time previously on the gridiron, with the Wolfpack capturing a 14-0 victory in the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl...USF will have a short week, hosting Pittsburgh on Thursday evening while the Wolfpack will host Boston College next Saturday...Jessie Hester led the Bulls receiving corps with seven receptions for 68 yards while Mitchell gained 41 yards on four catches. Edwards added 77 yards receiving on three catches...NC State had just 13 first downs to USF's 29...A silver lining for the Wolfpack was Graham's ability on kick returns with 163 yards on six returns.
09/28 01:13:14 ET