USF Bulls Win Season Opener Behind Marlon Mack


Sep 28, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; South Florida Bulls head coach Willie Taggart looks at the play card against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Marlon Mack had a debut for the ages.

The USF Bulls freshman running back had 275 rushing yards on 24 carries and four touchdowns as he carried the Bulls to an opening night 36-31 win over the Western Carolina Catamounts.

Mack had touchdown runs of 62, 60, three and 56 and tied the USF record for rushing yards in a game, a feat he holds with Andre Hall.

His first touchdown came at a crucial time as USF were trailing 14-6 and needed a spark with less than six minutes left in the second quarter.

In the second half, he took over. He was explosive, nifty and flat out dangerous all night long.

Mack wasn’t even supposed to start tonight but an injury to sophomore Darius Tice bumped him into the starting line-up.

Mack’s performance made it easier on starting quarterback Mike White. The sophomore struggled early on, including throwing an interception, but settled in as the game wore on and finished the night 9-of-26 for 181 yards. However, the Bulls were just 4-of-13 on third down.

USF created two turnovers in the opening four minutes of the game but couldn’t score any points.

The Bulls went into the half trailing 17-16 in large part due to Western Carolina quarterback Troy Mitchell. He finished the night 46-of-66 for 374 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came late in the fourth quarter.

However, USF outscored WCU 20-14 in the second half to pull away and avoid the upset. WCU were looking for their first ever win against an FBS school and at times they looked like they’d make it happen but USF managed to get a grip on the game when it mattered most.

The Bulls defense played better as the game progressed. While their pass defense had problems their front seven were fantastic, holding WCU to 80 rushing yards on 29 carries. Junior linebacker Tashon Whitehurst was everywhere while freshman safety Jamie Byrd had an interception and made a number of key tackles. As expected, Bulls kicker Marvin Kloss was perfect, making all three field goals and kicking every extra point.

The Bulls did lose two key players to injury though. Star wide receiver Andre Davis left the game after making a 44-yard reception that set up Mack’s third touchdown run. Offensive tackle Thor Jozwiak also left and did not return and was later seen on the sidelines with his left arm in a sling.

Transfer Rodney Adams led the Bulls in receiving as he caught three passes for 67 yards, using his deadly speed to get away from defenders.

The Bulls’ next game is at home to Maryland on Saturday.