MUNCIE, Ind. — USF quarterback B.J. Daniels knew what he had to do.
Trailing Ball State 24-19, Daniels led the Bulls on a 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter Saturday to take a 27-24 lead with 4:12 to play. It had the makings of a second dramatic comeback victory this season before the Bulls' defense collapsed to produce a 31-27 loss.
But Daniels' drive was a thing of beauty.
On third and 12 on his 29-yard line, Daniels was pushed back to the 10 by the Cardinals, but he was able to avoid a tackle and complete a 21-yard pass to wide receiver and former Hillsborough High standout Terrence Mitchell.
In the same drive, on third and 10 Daniels completed a pass to receiver Derrick Hopkins for an 18-yard gain to bring the Bulls to Ball State's 32.
After a 4-yard run from Demetris Murray, a holding penalty pushed USF back to the 38. Another penalty was called on Murray, pushing USF back to its 47-yard line.
Facing second and 31, Daniels completed a pass to Murray for 24 yards, and on the next play Hillsborough grad Lindsey Lamar caught a 29-yard pass to score for a 25-24. Murray converted a 2-point conversion to make it 27-24.
"I'm not the type of guy that's going to get hyped and down and discouraged because of where the ball is," Daniels said. "Whatever circumstances we're in, I have to make sure, as a senior quarterback and a captain, to keep your head up. No matter where we are on the field, I know we can get the job done."
The Bulls gained 206 yards on 45 rushes and completed 19 of 30 passes for 312 yards.
"B.J. Daniels competed his tail off," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "I thought he played extremely well. I can't say enough positive things about the way he's competing right now. Unfortunately, defensively we couldn't get it done."
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said that with strong wind against the Bulls to begin the game, he wanted to work on the run game.
"I think our line did a nice job, and our backs ran hard for the most part all night long. You can't fault the effort of some of those guys," Fitch said. "I think we improved in our run game."
Holtz said it was encouraging to watch the offense have success.
"To be this close, we're not going to put our heads in the sand," he said. "It's not like we're not competing or we're not going out and playing hard."