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)

USF Bulls' first-half defense kept carnage in 31-0 loss to Rutgers Scarlet Knights from being worse

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — As demoralizing as Thursday night's 31-0 loss was for USF, it could have been worse.

For one half, at least, defense kept the Bulls within striking distance of Rutgers, keeping the halftime deficit at 13-0 despite several early mistakes on offense and special teams.

The Scarlet Knights opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive and looked ready to blow the game open after adding a punt block, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. They started three first-half drives in USF territory, including two inside the 25-yard line.

But the Bulls held Rutgers to six points and 126 yards on those seven drives.

"Our defense I thought played really, really well," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "I could not believe we were still in the game at halftime. I was shocked."

Rutgers began its second drive on the USF 41-yard line after picking off quarterback B.J. Daniels, but the Scarlet Knights had to settle for a 36-yard field goal after safety Jerrell Young thwarted a third-down conversion attempt with a big hit on receiver Julian Hayes.

Minutes later, the Bulls muffed a punt return and the Scarlet Knights were at the 21. They pushed to the 9 before USF forced a short field-goal attempt. Holder Teddy Dellaganna dropped the snap and the USF defense rushed off the field in celebration, linebacker Sabbath Joseph leaping to embrace Leavitt.

"We knew we had to bail us out a few times and we were able to do it," safety Nate Allen said.

Cornerback Jerome Murphy intercepted a deep pass on the next Rutgers drive.

The Scarlet Knights blocked a punt with 2:28 left before halftime, setting up the offense at the USF 23-yard line. Rutgers had first and 10 at the 12 before a short run and two incompletions. Field-goal time again.

"We knew we did extremely well in that half," linebacker Kion Wilson said.

"They got down in there and scored and got seven points early, but after that our defense played extraordinary," Leavitt said. "For it not to be like 30-0 at halftime? I mean, really. Honestly. We were giving them everything."

USF Bulls' first-half defense kept carnage in 31-0 loss to Rutgers Scarlet Knights from being worse 11/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2009 12:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. DeSean Jackson's 'Ferrari engine' brings him to first Bucs camp


    TAMPA — When the Bucs signed Pro Bowl WR DeSean Jackson in the offseason, QB Jameis Winston said his new target was "a Bentley with a Ferrari engine," a nod to Jackson's 5-foot-10 frame but elite speed.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson sits for an interview while on camera with NFL Films.   HBO's NFL Films production of "Hard Knocks" documented a day in the life of Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson with his family at their home in Tampa on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
  2. What you should know about new Rays slugger Lucas Duda


    The MLB trade deadline is a few days away, but the Rays aren't procrastinating. Earlier today, they swung a deal for the Mets' Lucas Duda, sending minor league right-hander Drew Smith

    Slugger Lucas Duda will add some (more) power to the Rays lineup.
  3. Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets


    The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

    Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

    To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, …

    The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.
  4. Bucs do their best to stiff-arm the expectations


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

    As always, the key to the Bucs success will be Jameis Winston. He still is only 23, but a charismatic leader that this team and this town believes deeply in. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations


    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.


    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]