Daniels leads No. 22 USF to 37-7 rout of Ball St
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)
Ball State was disappointed, though hardly discouraged.
The Cardinals were unable to build on a season-opening upset of Indiana, falling 37-7 to No. 22 South Florida, which scored on a turnover on the first play and never looked back Saturday night.
''I don't feel like there was any panic, but I also don't feel like we were as focused and detailed as we needed to be to have a chance against these guys,'' Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. ''The good news about tonight is we did some good things, but we also did some things that are going to get us back down to earth and humble us a little bit.''
Taking up where it left off in forcing five turnovers during a surprising 23-20 season-opening victory at Notre Dame, USF's Mike Jeune knocked the ball loose from Ball State's Phil Dudley on the opening kickoff. Mark Joyce picked up the fumble and ran 17 yards to put USF ahead just 8 seconds into the game.
''That's about the worst possible thing that can happen, but we've got to overcome stuff like that,'' Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning said. ''Things like that are going to happen. It's football.''
Kayvon Webster's 96-yard, first-quarter fumble return got USF rolling against Notre Dame. The fastest TD in the Bulls' relatively brief football history dropped Ball State (1-1), which did not have a turnover in its season opener, into a hole that the overmatched Cardinals would not come close to escaping.
B.J. Daniels threw for a career-best 359 yards, including a 20-yard TD pass to Victor Marc, and Demetri Murray scored on a 2-yard run that helped USF build a 30-0 halftime lead while outgaining the Cardinals 386 yards to 76. When the Bulls had difficulty finishing drives, Maikon Bonani delivered field goals of 31, 24 and 38 yards.
''Obviously, it was a very, very good opponent, and we didn't help ourselves by some mistakes,'' Lembo said. ''I wouldn't say it was so much a lack of poise, but obviously very little margin for error. I don't think we brought our A game tonight.''
Ball State beat Indiana 27-20 in its debut under Lembo, rushing for 210 yards and getting a superb passing performance from Wenning to beat an opponent from a BCS conference for just the second time.
Until USF began substituting heavily in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had little success throwing or running the ball against a defense that allowed 508 yards to Notre Dame.
Wenning marched his team into Bulls territory just twice before Jahwan Edwards swept left end on a 13-yard, fourth-quarter scoring run that finished a nine-play, 77-yard TD drive that was aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty that wiped out an interception.
''You've got to give credit to their defense. They're a lot faster than what we're used to,'' Wenning said. ''The hard part about not moving the ball is their up-front defensive line. They brought blitzes. They beat us up front the majority of the time. Their speed and their strength up front is what got us.''
Daniels, who did not play in the fourth quarter, completed 28 of 39 passes and was intercepted once. Darrell Scott led USF with 82 yards rushing, the highlight a 1-yard, third-quarter TD run in which he hurdled a defender to get into the end zone.
Wenning was 24 of 35 for 148 yards and no interceptions, but the sophomore quarterback lost two fumbles. Edwards was Ball State's leading rusher with 41 yards on seven attempts and the Cardinals finished with 225 yards of total offense - 93 of those coming in the final quarter.
''It's kind of humbling compared to last week,'' Wenning said, ''so we've just got to take each game one at a time and move on to the next game.''