Bulls shaky but win another one in final quarter

by Gary Shelton on September 23, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Jordan Cronkrite rbreaks loose for a fourth-quarter score./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sunday, 3:45 a.m.

You can look at this two ways.

If you're the cheery, all-wins-are-great sort of USF Bulls fans, you can rave about their fourth quarters. After all, it says a great deal about a team by the way it finishes, and so far, the Bulls have shown a knack for pulling their feet out of the flames.

Ah, but if you a gloom-is-nearly doom, what's-going-on-here sort of realist, you can fret about the three quarters that come before the last one. That says a lot about a team, too, especially one that seems to misfire far too often despite a 4-0 record.

Both views were acceptable Saturday night after the Bulls -- a 21 1/2-point favorite -- won another whew-game, 20-13 over East Carolina. For

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Blake Barnett was sacked six times./STEVEN MUNCIE

the third straight week, USF won because it was the better team down the stretch, but once again, it was a victory that was far from satisfying. The Bulls endured as much as they triumphed.

"We weren’t ready to play tonight," USF coach Charlie Strong said. "But it’s good that you get the win. We just made the plays at the right time."

It was the Bulls' 150th win the history of the program. It came in the team's 255th game, which is three games faster than the University of Florida.

ECU defense stops Salomon from making the catch./STEVEN MUNCIE

The best of those plays came with 10:13 to play, when Florida transfer Jordan Cronkrite raced 80 yards up the middle for the winning touchdown. Cronkrite had 129 yards rushing for the night. He's had 265 yards rushing over the last two weeks.

"I had the easy part," Cronkrite said. "I just had to run straight. I was trying to give my team a lift."

After that, the maligned USF defense held on three straight ECU possessions to finish the game.

Quarterback Blake Barnett, who had been instrumental in the first two comebacks, had a tough night. He hit just 12 of 20 passes for 181 yards, even though he hit Darnell Salomon on a 66-yard touchdown. East Carolina had six sacks in the game.

"It’s pretty frustrating," Barnett said. "It really is. We have to come out and be have to be better. I said this last week and I said it the week before. We can’t be happy with our performance, to think we can play like that and win. We left a lot of stuff on the field. I'm happy its a win, but to think we can play like that every week and win...

"Little details matter. One missed block leads to a TFL (tackle for loss). One missed block leads to a sack. Three inches leads to an incompletion. We have the talent, we have the ability, we have the skill sets, we have the bodies to come out and play a complete game."

Safety Nick Roberts sealed the win with an interception with two minutes to play, allowing the Bulls to run out the clock.

The Bulls now get a week off before traveling to UMass on Oct. 6.

Charlie Strong's team is 4-0 but needs to be better./STEVEN MUNCIE





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