Three costly turnovers hamper USF offense while three quarterbacks see action in 42-13 loss to Golden Hurricane.
TAMPA, OCT. 23, 2020 – USF came up short in its attempt at posting the program’s 100th home victory as Tulsa totaled three takeaways in a 42-13 win over the Bulls on Friday night in Raymond James Stadium.
A 4-yard touchdown reception by Bryce Miller (St. Petersburg, Fla.) helped USF get within eight near the midpoint of the third quarter before Tulsa (2-1, 2-0 in AAC) responded with 21 unanswered points.
USF (1-5, 0-4 in AAC) played at least three quarterbacks for the fourth time this season and got the most production from Noah Johnson. The grad transfer from Tampa completed 18 of 27 passes for season-high 150 yards and a touchdown but had two turnovers.
Freshman Omarion Dollison (Columbia, S.C.) reached a new career high in receptions with six for a team-high 54 yards. Miller matched his career high with five catches for 44 yards.
Big plays on defense and special teams gave USF a spark, but two costly turnovers on offense hampered the Bulls in a first half that saw the Golden Hurricane build a 21-6 lead.
After Tulsa took a 7-0 lead, Daquan Evans (Orlando) intercepted a pass for the second straight game and returned the third pick of his career 31 yards on a play that set the Bulls up at the Golden Hurricane 39. USF got as far as the 22-yard line on the drive that was capped off by Jared Sackett’s 39-yard field goal with 9:59 to play in the opening quarter.
USF’s defense forced a three-and-out and KJ Sails (Tampa) put the offense in prime position for another score with a career long 60-yard punt return all the way down to the Tulsa 9. This time, Sackett (Fort Worth, Texas) split the uprights from 25 yards out with 6:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Trailing 21-6, Johnson led USF on a 12-play, 71-yard drive that went as far as the Tulsa 4 just before the break. The Bulls came away empty-handed, however, after losing their second fumble of the half.
Resilient USF got into end zone on its first series of the second half with a 4-yard touchdown pass by Johnson to Miller on fourth-and-goal that helped drop the deficit to 21-13. Quarterback Cade Fortin (Suwanee, Ga.) gave the Bulls a big boost on the 10-play, 72-yard drive, converting a fourth-down situation with a pass in Tulsa territory and rushing four times for 39 yards, including a season long 33-yard carry. Unfortunately, Fortin exited the game with a shoulder injury after scrambling for a short gain on the play prior to Miller’s scoring catch.
Momentum quickly swung in the other direction on the ensuing drive. Deneric Prince got loose on a 62-yard touchdown run to help give Tulsa a 28-13 lead midway through the third quarter. Less than two minutes later, Tulsa extended its lead to 35-13 with a 38-yard interception return by linebacker Zaven Collins.
Linebacker Andrew Mims (St. Johns, Fla.) led the defensive effort with a game-high seven tackles (four solo) and registered one of USF’s five tackles for loss.
462 – Tulsa’s offensive yardage total after rushing for 227 yards and four touchdowns.
3 – USF turned the ball over three times (two fumbles) and had an interception returned for a touchdown.
2-for-15 – USF’s success rate in third-down situations on offense.
· DB Daquan Evans had a 31-yard return on his second interception of the season (third of career) in the first quarter. Evans has intercepted a pass in consecutive games and had a 56-yard return the previous week at Temple.
· USF lost for the first time in four matchups with Tulsa.
· The Bulls were seeking the 100th home victory in program history and now have an all-time home record of 99-52. A total of 93 of those victories occurred in Raymond James Stadium. The other six wins were at old Tampa Stadium.
· USF played at least three quarterbacks for the fourth time this season.
Head coach Jeff Scott’s thoughts on the loss:
“I think the story in the first half offensively was the two turnovers. I thought the turnover right before halftime going in, that was huge. If you look at coming out in the third quarter, we held them, went down and scored and made it an eight-point game. If we could have punched it in right there before the half, we would have been in a much better position. Also, I thought in the first half, again third-down defense, Tulsa executed very well and we did not. I just thought that was kind of the story of the first half. I really challenged our guys in the second half to go stop them and go down and score and get it to a one-possession game. We did that and finally had some momentum, I felt like. Then, it was just a couple plays later, they had the long run and it just kind of went downhill from there. It’s obviously very disappointing… I just challenged them and said after the game, ‘Hey, it’s on all of us – coaches and players.’ We’ve got two weeks to get ready for our next game and we’ve got to kind of reexamine, reevaluate what we’re doing. The only way we’re gonna get it corrected is the guys in that locker room – coaches and players. That’s what we’ll do.”
USF has an open date before heading back on the road for a conference clash at Memphis on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kickoff time has yet to be determined.
The Bulls conclude their two-game road trip at Houston on Nov. 14 before returning to Raymond James Stadium to host Navy on Saturday, Nov. 21. Purchase tickets to USF’s Salute to Service game against the Midshipmen HERE or by calling 1-800-Go-Bulls.
About USF Football
The USF football program first took the field in 1997 and completed its 23rd season (20th at the FBS level) in 2019. The Bulls have posted 15 winning seasons, earned 14 All-America selections and 29 first-team all-conference selections and has seen 30 players selected in the NFL Draft. USF has made 10 bowl games appearances (going 6-4 in those games) and posted a program record six straight appearances from 2005-2010. The Bulls most recently made four straight bowl appearances from 2015-18 and posted back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2016 and 2017, logging a program-record 11-2 mark in 2016 while finishing both seasons ranked in the Top 25. USF spent a program record 20 straight weeks ranked in the Top 25 during the 2016 and 2017 seasons and reached as high as No. 2 in the national rankings during the 2007 season.
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