BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
I’ll say one thing about the Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium.
Every time I cover this game, it’s always an adventure.
Part of the adventure is seating or lack there of in the FAU Press Box since it’s too small to accommodate the overflow media.
During the 2020 game where BYU, led by New York Jets QB Zach Wilson, demolished the University of Central Florida 49-23 in front of 6,000 fans, myself and other local media had to sit outside in one end zone. Many of us were tired of that after the first half so we went back to the Press Box and watched the game from the media dining area.
Once again, this event turned out to be a challenge.
My alma-mater, the University of South Florida Bulls (6-6 overall, 4-4 AAC) faced the Syracuse Orange (6-6 overall, 2-6 ACC) on December 21, 2023.
I was approved for my credentials quite quickly, but couldn’t pick them up until the day before the game, thus I wasn’t able to attend some of the pre-game press conferences.
When I went to the game, once again there was no seat in the Press Box and had to sit in the auxiliary section instead. This wasn’t as bad since it was below the Press Box. It was neat sitting amongst the fans and during halftime, I went to the media lounge on the first floor and left my bag there.
While I didn’t have the luxury of stats to work with because there was no table in the auxiliary section, I didn’t need one as USF blew out Syracuse 45-0.
USF out gained Syracuse in total offense 407-159.
The Bulls led in first downs 21-9.
The rushing advantage by USF was staggering 161-20.
USF’s passing game advantage was 246-139.
What did this add up to for Syracuse? A long night at the office.
On this night since I had no photographer, I enjoyed writing, being the photographer and shooting the video at the post-game press conference, and once again, it was great to see my former editor Joey Johnston, who is the radio play-by-play announcer for USF. Joey is also a USF alumnus.
It was neat taking some photos with some USF Bulls fans and alumni since I’m one of them.
A crowd of 20,711 had an opportunity to see this domination.
In this game, the Bulls defense rose to the occasion, swarming Syracuse from the outset forcing four punts (including three, three-and-outs) and three turnovers including a pair of scoop and score touchdowns. USF limited the Orange to 91 first half yards (including -15 rushing) in pinching USF’s first, first half shutout 21-0, since 2019.
Syracuse finished with 159 yards, 10 punts and just nine first downs (going 1-of-17 on third down) as the Bulls posted their first complete game shutout since 2009 and didn’t allow the Orange to reach the redzone in a complete domination.
Daauan Evans was named Defensive MVP after posting five tackles, two for a loss, a sack, and forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Aamaris Brown-Bunkley was named Special Teams MVP after returning a botched field goal attempt for a touchdown and added three tackles.
Redshirt freshman QB Byrum Brown was named Offensive MVP , started the game 10-of-11 before finishing 19-of 26 for 214 yards and three touchdowns, posted a team-best 64 yards rushing on 14 carries, and caught a 21-yard pass from Sean Atkins.
He became just the second Bull to surpass 4,000 total yards in a season, finishing with 4,101, and second only to Quinton Flowers’ 4,342 yards posted in 2016.
Sean Atkins became the Bulls first 1,000 yard receiver, as he grabbed six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
The 45-0 victory marked USF’s largest margin of victory ever in a bowl game and its fourth win over a “Power” Conference Program.
USF improved its bowl record to 7-4.
After the game, it was neat to finally meet and talk to Head Coach Alex Golesh as he talked about this game, and the future of his program that includes an on campus stadium that will open in the next few years along with playing in South Florida.
In this video, you’re going to hear Golesh and the key players of the game.
I was totally impressed with Golesh’ candor and the energy he brings to the program, something that USF has lacked the last several years. You’re going to see it in this video.
It was also nice to be able to proudly wear My USF Shirt and seeing the game just 15 minutes from my front door in Deerfield Beach.
After going to this contest, my plan is to cover more USF Games in 2024.
On this day, I was “Proud To Be A USF Bull” as it was a moment that I didn’t mind being in the Press Box and instead being where I could hang out with individuals that wear the green and gold proudly.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com and you can see his broadcasts by subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.
Scott’s book, “Lessons From The Microphone” can be purchased on Amazon and Kindle.