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(Thursday, December 1st)
Final Score: (22) West Virginia 30, South Florida 27
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Tyler Bitancurt kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired and No. 22 West Virginia secured a share of the Big East title with a 30-27 victory over South Florida.
The Bulls scored 17 straight points to take a 27-20 lead in the fourth quarter, but Dustin Garrison tied it on a five-yard touchdown run with 5:09 left in the game.
Geno Smith then capitalized on a USF fumble, setting up Bitancurt's game- winner with a 26-yard strike to Stedman Bailey on 4th-and-10.
Pat Miller had a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown and Tavon Austin returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score for the Mountaineers (9-3, 5-2 Big East), who will likely clinch the conference's BCS bowl berth with a Cincinnati win over Connecticut on Saturday.
B.J. Daniels threw for 226 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Bulls (5-7, 1-6), who needed a win to become bowl eligible.
They began the season 4-0 but dropped seven of their last eight and will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2004.
"It's really hard right now, there's not a lot of words you can say in that locker room to take the pain and the hurt away," said Bulls coach Skip Holtz.
Still, USF can't be faulted for lack of effort.
Daniels, who missed the previous game with an injured shoulder, tied the score at 20 apiece with a one-yard touchdown plunge early in the fourth.
On the next play from scrimmage, Smith was intercepted by JaQuez Jenkins, who sprinted 24 yards for the go-ahead score.
The Mountaineers failed to convert a 3rd-and-17 on the following drive, but a personal foul on USF kept the march alive. The penalty proved costly, as Garrison reeled off a 16-yard run before crossing the goal line from five yards out. It marked WVU's first offensive touchdown of the game.
Lindsey Lamar gave the Bulls momentum with a 53-yard return on the ensuing kick, but Daniels fumbled away the football at the West Virginia 26.
With 13 seconds left, Smith took the snap and found a diving Bailey at the USF 16. Bitancurt, who missed a 38-yarder in the opening quarter, then split the uprights for the win.
The Mountaineers held a 13-7 lead at the half despite a lackluster offensive effort.
Bitancurt opened the scoring with a 23-yard field goal and added a 42-yarder 22 seconds before the break.
In between, Miller compensated for WVU's slow offense, intercepting a Daniels' pass and returning it 52 yards for a touchdown.
Daniels, though, responded, completing a 20-yard touchdown strike to Sterling Griffin on the Bulls' next drive.
The Mountaineers marched into USF territory on the opening drive of the second half, but Devon Brown fumbled away the football at the two-yard line. The Bulls capitalized with Maikon Bonani's 32-yard field goal, making it a 13-10 game.
Austin returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
Bonani tacked on a 20-yarder later in the third, setting up the dramatic finish.
Louisville has already clinched a share of the Big East title. A Cincinnati win over UConn will force a three-way tie atop the Big East. The tiebreaker will go to the team with the highest ranking in the final BCS standings next Sunday. West Virginia is currently the only team of the three to be ranked (23rd)...The Mountaineers now hold a 4-3 advantage over the Bulls in the all- time series...Since 2000, WVU is 74-3 when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
12/02 02:21:51 ET