TAMPA, Fla. – Moise Plancher rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown Saturday night, helping South Florida shrug off a slow start to beat Western Kentucky 24-12 and extend the nation's longest Football Bowl Subdivision losing streak to 24 games.
Plancher scored on a 13-yard burst in the opening quarter. Richard Kelley and B.J. Daniels added TDs on runs of 2 and 1 yards in the third quarter for the Bulls (2-1), who were coming off a 38-14 loss to No. 9 Florida two weeks ago.
Western Kentucky (0-4) has been outscored 180-62 in losses to Nebraska, Kentucky, Indiana and USF, which limited Bobby Rainey, the nation's fifth-leading rusher at 148 yards per game, to 64 yards on 21 attempts.
Rainey did throw a halfback pass 5 yards to Quinterrance Cooper for Western Kentucky's first touchdown. Kawaun Jakes threw for 221 yards, including a 25-yard TD pass to Jack Doyle late in the fourth quarter.
Demetris Murray led South Florida with a career-best 115 yards rushing on 15 carries. Two weeks after completing just 5 of 20 passes for 84 yards and four interceptions in the Bulls' loss to Florida, Daniels was 7-for-11 for 57 yards and one interception as USF relied on a balanced ground attack.
Western Kentucky fell to 1-27 against FBS opponents since 2007, when it made the transition from the Football Championship Subdivision. The Hilltoppers wrapped up their nonconference schedule under first-year coach Willie Taggart, and will play their Sun Belt Conference opener at Florida International in two weeks.
USF led Florida early and was tied 7-all at the half before their chances for an upset gradually slipped away against the Gators.
Coach Skip Holtz used last week's open date to correct mistakes and try to get Daniels and the passing game on track, but the offense sputtered during a sloppy first half.
Eric Schwartz missed field goal attempts of 26 and 46 yards before Murray bolted 39 yards up the left sideline, and the Bulls received an additional 15 yards because of a face mask penalty, to set up Plancher's touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Kelley's TD made it 14-0 midway through the third quarter, and Terrence Mitchell's 67-yard punt return set up Daniels' second rushing touchdown of the season.
Western Kentucky kicker Casey Tinius had a tough night, too, missing field goals of 47, 50 and 45 yards in the first half, the latter leaving the Hilltoppers frustrated after Kiante Young's interception and 35-yard return to the USF 12. Tinius also missed the extra point following Cooper's touchdown.
Jakes completed 19 of 37 passes and was intercepted once. Doyle finished with seven receptions for 94 yards for the Hilltoppers.
South Florida held a 226-88 edge in yardage on the ground, but was outgained overall 314 yards to 283.