Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Backup quarterback helps Cincinnati Bearcats beat USF Bulls 34-17

TAMPA — For all of the exposure and excitement, Thursday night remains a bad, bad night for USF to play football.

Facing No. 8 Cincinnati before a national ESPN audience and their biggest home crowd in nearly two years, the No. 21 Bulls gave up big plays in the second half, allowing a backup quarterback to shine in a 34-17 loss before 63,976 at Raymond James Stadium.

"I thought we'd play great in the second half and win the ball game. Obviously, I was wrong," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "Cincinnati outplayed us in the second half, and that's all there is to it."

It's the fourth Thursday game the Bulls (5-1, 1-1 Big East) have lost in the past three seasons and the third year in a row the Bulls have taken their first loss on a Thursday in October after at least five wins to open the season.

"I don't know why. If anybody has the answer, let me know," Leavitt said of the Thursday woes. "Cincinnati's a good team whether we play them on Thursday night, Friday night or Saturday night."

Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0) became the first team to beat the Bulls four years in a row and now is the team to beat as the defending Big East champion.

Even after the Bulls knocked star quarterback Tony Pike out of the game in the third quarter, backup Zach Collaros surprised them with a 75-yard scramble for a touchdown.

"It was a backbreaker. It was a great play by the quarterback," said USF quarterback B.J. Daniels, who accounted for 282 yards of offense and both touchdowns in his first home start.

Cincinnati rushed for just 5 yards in the first half, but Collaros rushed for 132 by himself in the second half on just 10 carries and threw a 43-yard pass that preceded his touchdown run that put the Bearcats up by 14.

"We did a poor job of adjusting to the other quarterback," Leavitt said. "It kind of caught us. We worked very hard with (Pike). It's a good job by them."

The Bulls hurt themselves with penalties, 12 for 113 yards, and were inconsistent on offense. Daniels threw an interception that Aaron Webster returned 83 yards to set up the Bearcats' first touchdown for a 10-7 lead. The Bulls also went 4-for-16 on third downs.

Down 24-10 in the third, USF's defense provided a spark as Jason Pierre-Paul got a hand on a Collaros pass that was intercepted by Nate Allen and returned to the Cincinnati 24. Two plays later, Daniels' touchdown cut the Bearcats' lead to 24-17.

But USF's defense couldn't step up, letting Collaros throw the 43-yard pass to Ben Guidugli.

Daniels had Carlton Mitchell wide open for a potential 87-yard touchdown, but Mitchell let the ball pop out of his hands. A drop by receiver Patrick Richardson on fourth down ended an early USF drive at the Cincinnati 27.

The game saw USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey facing the team he helped to a Big East crown last season. After holding Cincinnati to 133 yards in the first half, the Bulls struggled in the second half, allowing Collaros to put the game away.

USF, which had won five straight games against ranked opponents, had the home crowd loud early, when Daniels hit receiver Jessie Hester for a 29-yard touchdown, his first catch of the season. But Pike answered with two touchdowns to Armon Binns, and USF's offense stalled, getting no points from three drives to the Cincinnati 40 or deeper. A 50-yard field goal by walk-on Eric Schwartz on the last play of the first half cut USF's deficit to 17-10.

The Bulls have a tough stretch ahead with a trip to Pittsburgh (5-1, 2-1) on Oct. 24 then a home game against West Virginia (4-1, 1-0) on Oct. 30.

Backup quarterback helps Cincinnati Bearcats beat USF Bulls 34-17 10/15/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 16, 2009 7:53am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    The 10 strikeouts look flashy, but RHP Chris Archer was not his sharpest Thursday. He allowed three runs on seven hits, including three straight in the two-run second and a Gary Sanchez homer in the third, and lasted only six innings, throwing 102 pitches.

  2. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  3. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lucas Duda
  4. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years


    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard, left, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.