South Florida rolls Tennessee-Martin in opener
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Moise Plancher and Mike Ford each had two rushing touchdowns as 19th-ranked South Florida dominated Tennessee-Martin, 56-7, in the season opener for both teams from Raymond James Stadium.
Plancher finished with 65 yards on eight carries while Ford had 61 yards on 15 carries for the Bulls (1-0), who are coming off a 9-4 campaign in 2007.
Matt Grothe went 6-for-8 with 96 yards and a pair of touchdown passes as Jessie Hester caught both touchdown passes for South Florida.
"I do recognize that we have got different teams ahead," said South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt. "None of you have to share that with me. I recognize that, and I think our team does too. I'm sure that Tennessee-Martin will be good in their league, but that's not what we are going to be facing. I am proud of our players. They did what they came out to do, what they needed to do, and I think we did a pretty good job."
Cade Thompson went 6-for-19 with 25 yards and an interception and Dontell Miller scored the only touchdown for the Skyhawks (0-1) on a fumble recovery. Daryl Bourne had eight carries for 37 yards in the loss.
"It wasn't just the offense, it was the defense and special teams as well," said Tennessee-Martin head coach Jason Simpson. "Let's face it we were overmatched and we didn't help ourselves. We missed a lot of tackles, didn't block, didn't catch."
After stopping the Skyhawks on the first possession of the game, the Bulls needed just five plays to get into the end zone. A 40-yard punt return from Marcus Edward gave the Bulls the ball at the UTM 31 and, after four straight runs got the ball to the 18-yard line, Grothe hooked up with Hester on an 18- yard score and a 7-0 lead a bit over five minutes in.
South Florida again held Tennessee-Martin and got the ball back and a 45-yard run from Benjamin Williams helped to set up a three-yard run into the end zone by Ford for a 14-0 lead with 6:24 left in the first.
After a three-and-out from the Skyhawks, Edwards' 19-yard punt return gave the Bulls the ball at midfield and five plays later Ford rumbled into the end zone from six yards out with a bit over three minutes left in the first.
Edwards came up with another good punt return after the defense held Tennessee-Martin, as his 22-yard return put the Bulls at the Skyhawks 37-yard- line. Williams gave the team a 28-0 lead after 15 minutes with his 13- yard rushing score.
The only score of the second quarter came with under two minutes left in the half as Grothe found Hester over the middle for 22 yards and the receiver bulled his way into the end zone for a 35-0 lead.
Plancher's 35-yard touchdown run with 5:18 left in the third quarter staked the Bulls to a 42-0 advantage.
The Skyhawks finally got on the board, but it was their defense that got the points. Louis Gachette fumbled the ball and Miller scooped it up and took it into the end zone on a 72-yard score to make it a 42-7 contest with 2:26 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter, a partially blocked punt was picked up on the hop by Theo Wilson and he raced into the end zone on a 67-yard score for a 49-7 lead a bit over three minutes into the fourth.
Plancher's 13-yard touchdown run with 2:20 to play capped the scoring in the contest.
This was the first ever meeting between the two teams...Williams finished the game with six carries for 70 yards...South Florida totaled 520 yards of offense compared to just 97 yards for Tennesse-Martin...A.J. Love had four catches for 57 yards for South Florida...South Florida punt returners totaled 226 yards and a score on 10 returns.
08/31 01:25:45 ET