It was a miserable start for the hometown USF Bulls.  Dark gray overcast skies kept a steady rain fall at Raymond James Stadium, contributing to a very bad first half. 

The second USF possession of the game, a drive that began at their own ten yard line, ended in a 4th and 7 situation, bringing out the punt team.  Jon Hernandez’ punt was blocked and recovered by Augie Contressa to give Stony Brook a 6-0 lead with 6:57 left in the first quarter.

The Bulls would even the score up at seven on the subsequent drive, a one yard run by Darius Tice, capping off a nine play drive.  The score was set up by a 15 yard run by DeAngelo Antoine, a 14 yard scramble by quarterback, Quinton Flowers, and a 17 yard pass and catch from Flowers to Elkanah Dillon.

The second quarter was a field position battle on the wet football field.  Near the end of the half, Stony Brook would retake the lead after an Alex Lucansky field goal from the 36 yard line.  Big plays on that drive included a 14 yard pass from Joe Carbone to Nick Anderson and a surprising 17 yard scramble by Carbone.  The half ended two possessions later with a 10-7 Stony Brook lead.

Stony Brook was riding high on momentum after leading a half against the #19 team in the FBS division.  That momentum continued on the first possession of the half, which went to the Bulls.  USF had made steady progress down the field, from their 23 to their 48 yard line.  Flowers then attempted a pass to Darnell Salomon, but was intercepted by Travon Reid-Segure at the Stony Brook 39 yard line.  The Seawolves would end up punting a the end of the drive, unable to turn the turnover into points.  

The Bulls would take advantage of the missed opportunity and turn it into a score of their own on the following possession.  They would begin at their 20 and drive 80 yards for the touchdown, a six yard pass from Flowers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling.  Setting up the 14-10 go ahead score was a 20 yard pass to Mitchell Wilcox and a 14 yard scramble by Flowers. 

The Seawolves went three and out on their next drive and were forced to punt from their own 14 yard line.  Marc Nolan sent the punt 48 yards to the USF 38, but Tajee Fullwood returned the punt 46 yards to the Stony Brook 16.  They would prevent USF from scoring the touchdown, but they couldn’t keep them from taking the chip-shot field goal and extending their lead to 17-10 with just 32 second remaining in the third quarter.  

Stony Brook responded on the next drive and in a big way.  Carbone had tried to rush on first down from his own 36 yard line, but was tackled for a five yard loss when the double handoff failed.  On the next play, he connected with Harrison Jackson for a 15 yard reception.  Two plays later, Stacey Bedell found a hole on the left side of the Bulls’ defense and ran 54 yards for the touchdown.  With 13:04 left in the game, the score was tied at 17.

The Bulls would not let that stand for long.  On first down of the next possession, Flowers ran for 13 yards.  Two plays later, he found Tyre McCants for a 65 yard touchdown catch and run.  Just under 2 ½ minutes after the game was tied, USF regained the lead, 24-17.

The Seawolves were not able to convert a first down on their next drive and the Bulls were forced to punt on theirs.  Stony Brook got the ball back with 3:13 to go in the game and trailing by just seven points.  A good punt by Hernandez pinned Stony Brook on their two yard line.  On third down after failing to convert on the first two, Carbone’s pass was intercepted by Mazzi Wilkins at the Stony Brook 25 yard line.  The short field set up Tice and his 14 yard touchdown run four plays later, giving the Bulls their final, 31-17 score.

After the game, a somewhat stunned media corps had many questions.  USF head coach, Charlie Strong, had answers. 

 “All the issues we had, they can be corrected”, said Strong.  “We can’t go there and play like we did the last two weeks.  We know this.  We have to get our minds right and just stay focused and the preparation has to be there.” 

For three quarters of the game, USF struggled to play their normal game.  That prompted questions of preparedness. 

“They didn’t surprise us, we knew what we were getting”, Strong said.  “And I told them (the players), what’s going to happen, you’re the number 19th ranked team in the country, they’re going to come in and they’re going to play.  You’re going to get their best, you’re going to get everyone’s best.”

Asked if they feel like the number 19th ranked team and if they’ll drop, Strong said, “I don’t know if we’ll drop.  There was a lot of ball played the other night where two or three teams didn’t look good.  We don’t have no (sic) reason to drop.  We just got to get better.  I thought today’s game we were awful.”

The shaky start has to give fans, coaches, and players reason for concern.  However, they remain 2-0, undefeated, and a next opponent who was challenged by Holy Cross.  Also still intact is their nation-leading 19 game streak of games scoring 30 points or more.  The Bulls will head to UConn for a noon matchup on September 9th

blog comments powered by Disqus