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.
|SFLA||Demetris Murray 2 yd run (Maikon Bonani kick)|
|TNCHAT||Nick Pollard 39 yd FG|
|SFLA||Derrick Hopkins 19 yd pass from B.J. Daniels (Maikon Bonani kick)|
|SFLA||Terrence Mitchell 38 yd pass from B.J. Daniels (Maikon Bonani kick)|
|TNCHAT||Keon Williams 2 yd run (Nick Pollard kick)|
|SFLA||Sterling Griffin 39 yd pass from B.J. Daniels (failed 2pt pass)|
|TNCHAT||Henrique Ribeiro 46 yd FG|
|SFLA||B.J. Daniels 20 yd run (Maikon Bonani kick)|
|Third Down Efficiency||2-15||9-15|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||1-1||0-1|
|Kick Return Yds||15||53|
|Punt Return Yds||-1||67|
|Time of Poss.||34:19||25:41|
|TNCHAT: Marquis Green 4-25, Terrell Robinson 7-9, J.J. Jackson 5-7, Keon Williams 7-5, Chris Awuah 1-5, Kendrix Huitt 2-4, Jacob Huesman 17-1, Taharin Tyson 1-1, Ron Moore 1--8|
|SFLA: Demetris Murray 16-55, Marcus Shaw 4-22, Willie Davis 2-7, Matt Floyd 1-4, B.J. Daniels 6-3, Derrick Hopkins 2--6|
|TNCHAT: Jacob Huesman 9-13-82-0, Terrell Robinson 4-5-20-0|
|SFLA: B.J. Daniels 17-26-265-1, Matt Floyd 3-7-19-0|
|TNCHAT: Faysal Shafaat 6-45, J.J. Jackson 2-40, Tray James 2-3, Marquis Green 1-8, Jarrett Burns 1-4, Bryant Belew 1-2|
|SFLA: Terrence Mitchell 5-78, Victor Marc 3-19, Sterling Griffin 2-83, Derrick Hopkins 2-23, Marcus Shaw 2-3, Deonte Welch 1-28, Evan Landi 1-18, Andre Davis 1-13, D'vario Montgomery 1-11, Demetris Murray 1-7, Andreas Shields 1-1|