By FRANCIS FEDOR
For the first time in five seasons, the USF football team (6-6; 4-4 American) is going bowling after another superlative five-touchdown day from redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown.
The Bulls clinched the crucial sixth win on the season with a highly entertaining 48-14 victory over Charlotte (3-9; 2-6 American) on Senior Night in Raymond James Stadium, Saturday. The Bulls celebrated 16 seniors prior to the game, celebrated program records during it and celebrated the program’s 11th bowl berth, its first since 2018, after the final buzzer.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown threw for 253 yards and four touchdowns and added 43 yards rushing and a touchdown as he became the first Bull to pass for 3,000 yards on a season, increasing his 2023 total to 3,078 on the night. His favorite target all season, Sean Atkins, logged his seventh-straight game with seven or more receptions, making seven grabs for 61 yards and a touchdown and threw a 62-yard touchdown to become the first Bull since 1998 to both catch and throw a touchdown in a game. Michel Dukes ran for a career-best 104 yards on 15 carries.
The game was a reunion for Charlotte 49ers freshmen Keoni Denny, a three-year, two-way star at Sumner HS, who had friends and family as well as Sumner coaches in attendance to welcome him back to Tampa. Sumner defensive coordinator George Selvie was also honored by the giveaway of a bobble head to fans attending the game, which added to the Sumner feel for the night.
Bulls fans will now have the opportunity to cheer for USF as the team is bowl eligible for the first time since 2018, having achieved that honor in the very first season for Alex Golesh as head coach and first year QB Byrum Brown stepping into the leadership role and successfully growing in that role to elevate the team to its 6-6 record, reaping the rewards of a total team effort.