The USF Bulls win another close one, fighting off the late charging Tulsa Golden Hurricane.  USF showed off their high powered offensive abilities early, but followed that up with three quiet quarters and let Tulsa get very close to a big upset.

The Bulls went three and out on the first possession of the game.  Tulsa began their first drive on their own 29 yard line.  They were flagged for a false start on second down, which set up a 2nd and 14.  Tulsa quarterback, Luke Skipper was sacked for a seven yard loss, which gave them a 3rd and 21.  On the next play, Skipper found a wide open Redford Jones for a 58 catch and run to the USF 24.  From there, it took just four runs by D’Angelo Brewer to get Tulsa on the scoreboard first.  With 10:06 remaining in the first quarter, it was Tulsa, 7-0. 

The response from USF came on their next possession in the form of a 25 yard touchdown reception by Tyre McCants to tie the game at 7.  An 11 yard run by D’Ernest Johnson, 11 yard catch by Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and a 12 yard run by Quinton Flowers put the Bulls in position to score. 

Tulsa would be stopped on their next drive, punting for a touchback.  With a 2nd and 5 on the USF 25, Flowers rushed for 19 yards to the 44 yard line.  Two plays later, Darius Tice ran 54 yards for a touchdown to give USF a 14-7 lead.

Later in the first quarter, the Bulls would build on that lead.  They began the drive on their own 32 yard line.  On the first play, Johnson took a handoff 14 yards to the USF 46 yard line.  Two plays later, he carried another 19 yards to the Tulsa 35.  After an incomplete pass to Valdes-Scantling, Flowers connected with Darnel Salomon for a 35 yard touchdown.  With 2:04 remaining in the first quarter, the Bulls led, 21-7. 

The next two scores would be field goals.  Tulsa kicker, Redford Jones, kicked a 30 yard field goal with 11:11 remaining in the first half.  The Golden Hurricane got into field goal range courtesy of 14 yard runs by Brewer and Skipper.  Two possessions later, USF’s Emilio Nadelman nailed a 41 yarder.  A 34 yard catch by Johnson and a 27 yard run put the Bulls in range.  USF led 24-10 with 3:05 left in the first half.

Tulsa would respond.  With a 3rd and 12 on the Tulsa 24 yard line, Skipper connected with Keylon Stokes for a 24 yard pass.  On the next play, Brewer took a handoff 29 yards to the USF 23 yard line. Six plays later, Skipper would carry the ball himself for a nine yard touchdown run.  The Bulls took a knee on their next opportunity with 33 seconds on the first half clock, content with a 24-17 lead.

The only score of the third quarter was a 48 yard field goal by Nadelman.  The Bulls took possession of the ball in field goal range after Devon Jones blocked a Thomas Bennett punt, which was recovered on the Tulsa 31 yard line. 

The final score of the game came with 5:40 left in regulation. Tulsa had been able to keep USF for scoring on four straight possessions.  On that fourth drive, USF was forced to punt from their own 22 yard line.  The punt was blocked by Tulsa’s Ryan McDaniel and there was a pile of players onto the ball.  Even though a USF player came up with the ball, the officials ruled that it had been recovered by the Golden Hurricane on the USF 22.  They were not able to move the ball on offense, but Jones made the chip shot field goal to set the final score at 27-20.   Both teams would get the ball again, but Tulsa failed to convert a fourth down, giving USF the ball on their 30 yard line, where they took a knee to end the game.

For the Golden Hurricane, Brewer had an excellent game, setting new records for career rushing at Tulsa with his 163 yards.  He also broke former Bull, Marlon Mack’s career rushing record in the American Athletic Conference.   Passing the ball, Skipper and Chad President totaled 191 yards.  They threw no interceptions, but were sacked five times.

Looking at USF, it’s a mixed bag.  Flowers threw for 142 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 119 more.  He also threw an interception, which has been a rarity this season, but the second one in two straight games.  Johnson had 84 yards rushing and Tice had 80 with one score. 

Defensively, Auggie Sanchez had a great game, with his 14 total tackles helping him set a new USF program records for tackles in a career.  Fellow senior, Deadrin Senat had 13 tackles.

After the game, USF head coach, Charlie Strong was asked about letting teams like Tulsa hang around.  Strong defended his staff, saying, “You look at Tulsa and think because of their record they’re not very good.  But, they beat Houston and Houston beat us.  So, they’ve been in every game.  It’s not like they’re going to come in here and not play hard.”

When asked if the offensive play calling was offensive quality, Strong said, “Well, you gotta execute.  That’s what it comes down to.”

USF will head to Orlando to play the UCF Knights on Black Friday.  The winner of that game will play for the conference championship and a possible trip to the Peach Bowl.  That game will be broadcast nationally on ABC at 3:30 PM EST.

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