USF’s unbeaten streak ended by Houston comeback

by Gary Shelton on October 29, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

King escapes Sawtelle on his touchdown run./CARMEN MANDATO

King escapes Sawtelle on his touchdown run./CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 4 a.m.

It was fourth down-and-forever. Fourth and way-over-there. Fourth and the-next-time-zone-over. Fourth down-and-a-miracle.

And Houston picked it up.

That miracle play helped the University of Houston to stop the nation's longest winning streak Saturday afternoon as the Cougars came from behind to beat the USF Bulls, 28-24, at Raymond James Stadium. USF saw a 12-game unbeaten streak stopped, as well as a 24-game streak of scoring at least 30, in their wild upset.

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Hoggis disappointed after final Houston score./CARMEN MANDATO

Hoggis disappointed after final Houston score./CARMEN MANDATO

USF lost despite kicking a go-ahead field goal by Emilio Nadelman with 1:46 to go. USF might have milked more time from the clock before its kick, but it did not.

On the ensuing drive, the first three plays lost 14 yards. But on fourth-and-24, quarterback D'Eriq King threw a pass 30 yards downfield, and Courtney Lark outfought several Bulls' defenders the plucked the pass. Five plays later, and King scrambled 20 yards for the winning score.

Strong lost his first game as coach of the Bulls./CARMEN MANATO

Strong lost his first game as coach of the Bulls./CARMEN MANATO

“It was back and forth, but thing about it is one play doesn’t beat you," said Bulls' coach Charlie Strong, who suffered his first loss at USF." There were many opportunities in the first quarter... Defensively, we can’t allow them to rush the ball the way they did. On fourth-and-24, just go up and knock it down, just get off the field and the game is over.”

Houston won the game largely by taking USF's strongest asset – its running game – out of the play. Quarterback Quinton Flowers ran for only seven yards (on 14 carries) and, as a team, the Bulls managed just 137 yards. Houston had more than 100 yards over that.

"In that second half, we lost our edge," linebacker Auggie Sanchez said.

Flowers threw for 325, but only rushed for seven./CARMEN MANDATO

Flowers threw for 325, but only rushed for seven./CARMEN MANDATO

Flowers did throw for 325 yards – and Marquez Valdez-Scantling caught 10 passes for 186 yards. Darren Tice led the USF rushers with 92 yards.

For the second straight week, USF's run defense didn't hold up. Mulbah Car ran for 137 yards, and King added 83. Most of the damage came in the second half; Houston had only 30 at the break. Houston scored all four of its touchdowns in the second half.

The loss knocks USF into second place behind UCF in the AAC's Eastern Division.

“I told our team, our goals are still in front of us," Strong said." We’ve just got to go win

Darius Tice gained 97 yards for the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

Darius Tice gained 97 yards for the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

our next three conference games and we’ll get to where we need to get to.”

USF drove 64 yards for its go-ahead field goal. The last six plays were on the ground as USF settled for the field goal.

With only 106 seconds left to play, however, Houston took over. Brandon McDowell returned the kickoff 50 yards, and on fourth-and-24, King launched a 30-yard pass that Lark came down with. After a first down, King scrambled on third-and-9 and scored from 20 yards out.

USF travels to UConn on Saturday to play. Game time has not been announced.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Martin October 29, 2017 at 6:54 am

I swear USF’s defense was playing from the Bucs’ D book…..couldn’t make a stop in the 2nd half. Disappointing loss. Can’t see them staying in the top 20.

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Gary Shelton October 29, 2017 at 12:28 pm

I think they’ll hang around in the bottom until the next loss.

Reply

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