TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - B.J. Daniels threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns, helping South Florida open the season with a 34-13 victory over Chattanooga on Saturday night.
The dual-threat senior tossed scoring passes of 19 yards to Derrick Hopkins, 38 yards to Terrence Mitchell and 39 yards to Sterling Griffin. He finished his strong performance with a 20-yard TD run in which he weaved through the Chattanooga defense before stretching the ball over the goal line.
Daniels completed 17 of 26 passes and also threw an interception that set up Chattanooga's only touchdown, a 2-yard run by Keon Williams in the second quarter.
USF's defense did its part, too, limiting Chattanooga (0-1) to 151 yards and sacking quarterbacks Terrell Robinson and Jacob Huesman six times.
Daniels enters his final year with the Bulls ranked third on the school's career list for passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense. He rebounded from a disappointing sophomore season - his first in coach Skip Holtz's offensive system - to throw for 2,585 yards, 13 TDs and seven interceptions as a junior.
An even bigger priority, though, is trying to lead USF to its first Big East title.
The Bulls opened a year ago with a road win at Notre Dame that helped them climb into the Top 25 for a four-week stay that ended when they lost their conference opener to Pittsburgh to begin a stretch in which they dropped seven of eight to finish with a losing record (5-7) for the first time in seven years and end a string of six consecutive bowl appearances.
Robinson started at quarterback for Chattanooga and alternated possessions for much of the night with Huesman, a redshirt freshman who's the son of Mocs coach Russ Huesman. USF sacked Robinson on two of the sophomore's first three plays, setting the tone for a long night for the entire Chattanooga offense.
A holding penalty and sack of Huesman kept the Mocs from getting into the end zone after driving to the USF 3 late in the second quarter. Nick Pollard wound up missing a 40-yard field goal but D.J. Key's interception and 43-yard return put the Mocs back in business less than a minute later.
Williams trimmed USF's lead to 21-10 at the half with his touchdown run. Henrique Ribeiro's 46-yard field goal that hit the crossbar and bounced through pulled the Mocs within 27-13 in the final minute of the third quarter.
Huesman completed 9 of 13 passes for 82 yards and no interceptions. Robinson was 4 of 5 for 20 yards and no interceptions.