Coincidentally, Tech will go to Pittsburgh next Saturday.
Winning streak against AAC over
Tech had won eight consecutive games against teams currently in the American Athletic Conference. The last loss to an AAC team was to Navy in 1996. The offensive coordinator for that Navy team was Paul Johnson.
Into the record books
The 81-yard pass play from quarterback TaQuon Marshall to A-back Clinton Lynch tied for the 10th longest in Tech history, according to team records. Lynch also was on the receiving end of an 83-yard pass play from Justin Thomas against North Carolina in 2016, a play tied for the sixth longest.
It was also the longest pass play of Marshall’s career.
“It was play action and they fell for it and it was wide open,” Lynch said.
Lynch finished with three catches for 111 yards, the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Aided by two kickoffs returned for touchdowns, South Florida scored the most points on Tech (49) since the Jackets lost 55-31 to Clemson in 2013. It also tied for the third most in the Johnson era. It also tied for the ninth most points surrendered by Tech in its modern era (since 1950).
B-back KirVonte Benson left the game in the first half with an apparent leg injury and did not come back. Benson had gained 41 yards on only five carries at the time of his injury, having considerable success with option pitches from Marshall.
In his place, Jordan Mason ran 13 times for 95 yards, the second consecutive game in which the redshirt freshman has had considerable playing time. Mason started the season opener against Alcorn State after Benson was held out of the first quarter for a violation of a minor team rule.
His status for next week’s game against Pittsburgh is uncertain.
Center Jahaziel Lee, safety Malik Rivera and Marshall all left the game with injuries, but all returned.
Nose tackle Kyle Cerge-Henderson played perhaps the game of his career Saturday. Henderson is from Tampa, and was playing in front of dozens of family members and friends. Cerge-Henderson had two sacks and another tackle for loss and a total of six tackles.
He made three big stops at a time when Tech was trying to keep the score close in the second quarter. Down 21-17, Cerge-Henderson beat a double team to sack quarterback Blake Barnett on second-and-8, then brought Barnett again on third down as he tried to escape the pocket, leading to a punt.
On USF’s next drive, with the score still 21-17, the Bulls drove to the Tech 30, where Cerge-Henderson came through with his second sack on third-and-8 to push USF out of field-goal range.
At least nine freshmen played Saturday. All had also played in the Alcorn State game, reducing the likelihood that they’ll be used just for four games and then redshirting.
Cornerbacks Jaylon King and Zamari Walton, safety Juanyeh Thomas, linebackers Jordan Domineck, Justice Dingle, Quez Jackson and Charlie Thomas, defensive lineman Quon Griffin and wide receiver Malachi Carter all played.