Mighty Bull rises to the occasion
TAMPA, Fla. --
Bonani, a Sao Paolo native who moved to tiny Lake Wales, Fla., at age 11, learned before Wednesday's practice that he would supplant incumbent
"I gave it a ride," Bonani said later.
The ball began its flight wide of the right upright, then hooked inside just before it reached the post. Time had expired. The No. 19 Bulls won 37-34. The Raymond James Stadium crowd exploded. Someone -- he isn't sure if it was friend or foe -- tackled Bonani. When he stood up, the first teammate to congratulate him was Alvarado, whose pinpoint punt had forced Kansas into the field-position hole that led to the
When Bonani stepped on the field with the game on his foot, USF defensive coordinator
"He's such a good athlete," Burnham said. "He could probably play tennis here. He could play soccer here. ... He's a competitor. It's ingrained in him to be a competitor and go out there with ice in his veins."
As Leavitt pondered making the kicking change this week, he consulted Burnham, his Yoda -- if Yoda were 6-foot-4 and spoke with a Pell City, Ala., twang. Burnham recommended Bonani, but neither coach took the decision lightly. Both coaches understood the risk if Bonani flopped on the big stage. "You've got to be careful," Burnham said. "You can ruin a guy."
As great as Bonani's story is, it seems a shame one of the pint-sized quarterbacks didn't throw a pass to win the game. Aside from their height -- 6-foot or a whisker under -- KU's
Only a handful of BCS conference schools recruited Reesing, the 5-foot-11 dynamo who in 2007 threw for 3,486 yards and 33 touchdowns and led Kansas to a 12-1 season. USF was the only Division I-A school to recruit the 6-foot Grothe, who last year led the Bulls to wins at Auburn and at home against West Virginia and inspired Alvarado to
Friday, Reesing and Grothe combined to throw for 711 yards and five touchdowns. Each player rushed for a touchdown. Each player led a furious comeback. Grothe led his team back from a 20-3 deficit, helping the Bulls rip off 31 unanswered points and put Kansas in a two-touchdown hole early in the fourth quarter.
Reesing laughed at that deficit, marching the Jayhawks down the field for touchdowns on consecutive possessions. Most of the night, he dodged USF sackmaster
It seemed Reesing couldn't make a mistake -- until he did. Leavitt theorized that the worst thing that could have happened to former Kansas State co-worker
"That may have been a blessing," Leavitt said.
Allen believes Reesing never saw him slip behind receiver
Leavitt asked for a timeout when the clock struck two seconds. During that timeout, Bonani stood alone.
"I kind of walked away," he said. "As a kicker, I guess it's stereotypical. I didn't want to be the only kicker who goes and actually talks to his teammates."
On the right side of USF's line, Selvie looked for rushers from the outside and from the inside. He made his block. The kick would get away. "I was praying," he said. "I was like, 'Ok, I made my block. Now it's time to watch.' It was tough watching it."
Bonani's mind remained clear until after he found himself at the bottom of a pile. "Honestly, man, I didn't think about much," he said. "I just kicked the ball. Thank God it went in."