Monday, July 16, 2018
Colleges

TAMPA — If ever 17th-ranked USF needed a dazzling effort in all three phases, it was Saturday. With the initial College Football Playoff rankings three days from release, style points and across-the-board dominance mattered.

But on a dreary, drizzling afternoon against Houston, the Bulls couldn’t flourish.

Or even finish.

Sophomore backup quarterback D’Eriq King’s 20-yard scoring run with 11 seconds remaining clinched Houston’s 28-24 upset of the Bulls (7-1, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) before an announced Raymond James Stadium crowd of 32,316.

Scoreless at halftime, the Cougars (5-3, 3-2) scored three touchdowns in the final 18 minutes. King set up his winning run five plays earlier with a 30-yard pass on fourth and 24 to 6-foot-2 sophomore Courtney Lark, who appeared to snag the pass over at least two Bulls defenders.

"Just go up and knock it down," Bulls coach Charlie Strong said.

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

They lost more than that. The Bulls’ 12-game win streak — longest in Division I-A — is over. So is their national-record string of games with at least 30 points (ending at 24). UCF now owns the nation’s longest 30-point streak, at seven contests.

Still in sight is the AAC’s East Division title and a New Year’s Six bowl game, though one more loss vanquishes those aspirations.

"I told ’em if this is the group of guys I know, then we’ll be back," Sanchez said, referring to his postgame address to his peers.

"And I told ’em our goal at the beginning of the season wasn’t to go undefeated, it was to win the conference championship. And that’s still in place right now. We control our own destiny in that situation."

But a few things are in need of repair.

The Bulls’ power-based scheme, showing little variety beyond the halfback dive, managed a season-low 137 yards against the Cougars, who mostly swarmed the line of scrimmage and held quarterback Quinton Flowers to 7 rushing yards.

In the first quarter, senior Darius Tice was stuffed on fourth and 1 from the Cougars 11. On their final scoring drive, ending with Emilio Nadelman’s 30-yard field goal with 1:46 to play, the Bulls had first and 15 at Houston’s 24 but opted for three consecutive run plays that netted 11 yards.

"They loaded the box," Strong said. "So … whatever they give you, you’ve got to take."

Defensively, USF suffered its second late meltdown in as many games.

Houston’s stunning rally, behind a sophomore who hadn’t played extensively behind center since high school, came seven days after the Bulls let Tulane score three touchdowns in the final 17 minutes of a 34-28 squeaker.

"We could’ve did just a little bit more," said senior defensive tackle Deadrin Senat, who sacked King one play before his fourth-down heave to Lark. "I myself could’ve done just a little bit more, and I know everybody on this defense is feeling the same way."

King, used only in wildcat-type situations prior to Saturday, totaled 220 yards and accounted for three touchdowns but struggled initially after replacing starter Kyle Postma.

The Bulls shut out the Cougars and held them to 82 total yards in the first half but watched them finish with 255 rushing yards. King ran for 83, while third-string tailback Mulbah Car, a burly 210-pound sophomore, gained 137 on 18 carries.

King’s 3-yard scoring run with 6:20 to go — capping a 10-play drive — tied the score at 21. USF responded with a 10-play drive of its own, ending with Nadelman’s field goal. But Cougars senior Brandon McDowell returned the ensuing kick 50 yards.

"I thought I had two guys that could’ve gone in there and just knifed it and made a play," Strong said. "They stayed outside and (McDowell) ended up seaming us."

But even after that play, there was a drive that got to fourth and 24.

"One play’s all we needed," Strong said. "Just one."

Alas, they couldn’t finish.

At least they’re not finished. Not yet, anyway.

"It’s okay," said Flowers, whose 332 total yards pushed him past 10,000 for his career. "At the end of the day, everything is still in front of us."

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

     
Comments
Live from SEC media days: Five stories to follow

Live from SEC media days: Five stories to follow

ATLANTA — Good morning from SEC media days, the unofficial kickoff to college football's preseason.The four-day event begins later this morning with commissioner Greg Sankey's address at 11:30. A few things I'll be monitoring over the next...
Updated: 2 hours ago
John Morgan represents ex-Louisville players suing NCAA over vacated national title

John Morgan represents ex-Louisville players suing NCAA over vacated national title

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A group of former Louisville men’s basketball players have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over the organization’s vacation of the Cardinals’ 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four. John Morgan, a Florida attorney who ...
Published: 07/11/18
Tim Tebow to join Florida Gators’ ring of honor

Tim Tebow to join Florida Gators’ ring of honor

Florida Gators legend Tim Tebow will become the latest player inducted into UF's ring of honor, the team announced Wednesday.Tebow will be honored on Oct. 6, when UF hosts LSU and when the Gators honor their 2008 national title team at Ben Hill Griff...
Published: 07/11/18
Florida Gators announce non-conference basketball schedule

Florida Gators announce non-conference basketball schedule

The Florida Gators announced their non-conference basketball schedule for the upcoming season.Their home opener is Nov. 9 against Charleston Southern, which also happens to be the football team's opener.The full schedule:Nov. 6: at Florida StateNov. ...
Published: 07/11/18
SEC media days: The story behind Dan Mullen’s sneakers and suits

SEC media days: The story behind Dan Mullen’s sneakers and suits

Dan Mullen didn't think he was making a big fashion statement at SEC media days three years ago.Yes, he was wearing trendy new sneakers — gray Adidas kicks designed by Kanye West. And yes, he paired them with a dark pinstripe suit.But Mull...
Published: 07/11/18
Former Dan Mullen signee Cord Sandberg adds UCF offer; UCLA on radar

Former Dan Mullen signee Cord Sandberg adds UCF offer; UCLA on radar

Former Bradenton Manatee QB Cord Sandberg, who signed to play for first-year Gators coach Dan Mullen in a previous football life, is pondering more substantial offers from other suitors this time around.Sandberg, a lefthander who announced Wednesday ...
Published: 07/06/18
Why Cord Sandberg’s baseball retirement could help Florida Gators football

Why Cord Sandberg’s baseball retirement could help Florida Gators football

Cord Sandberg was in one of the Phillies' minor-league clubhouses in 2016 when former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott was drafted by the Cowboys."All the guys in the clubhouse are like, 'Hey, wait a second, Cord, wasn't that supposed to be...
Published: 07/05/18
Ranking every college football game to be played by Florida’s teams

Ranking every college football game to be played by Florida’s teams

With the college football season finally approaching, I ranked each of this season's 78 games involving state teams. The two criteria are the same as last year: How important do I think this game will be, and how exciting is the matchup?78. Arka...
Published: 07/05/18
FSU coach Willie Taggart named one of Western Kentucky’s greats

FSU coach Willie Taggart named one of Western Kentucky’s greats

Florida State coach Willie Taggart received a cool honor late last week.Western Kentucky honored its former star quarterback by putting him on the school's all-century team. Taggart was at Western Kentucky from 1995-98 and was a two-time All-American...
Published: 07/02/18
UT lacrosse player earns Freddie Solomon Community Service Award

UT lacrosse player earns Freddie Solomon Community Service Award

TAMPA — For University of Tampa women’s lacrosse player Megan Sanchez, community service isn’t an obligation.It’s a way of life.Sanchez, from Wesley Chapel High School, was surprised to receive UT’s Freddie Solomon Community Service Award, given by t...
Published: 06/28/18
Updated: 07/02/18