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 loses to Houston

HOUSTON — Give USF this much: On a night nationally noted for meandering from house to house, the Bulls approached victory's doorstep, even knocking a time or two.

Yet they were turned away by a few Oct. 31 demons — namely a porous secondary, feeble tackling and a slew of ill-timed penalties — in the cavernous confines of Reliant Stadium.

Squandering a sparkling debut by freshman quarterback Mike White and kicker Marvin Kloss' latest career night, the Bulls surrendered a string of early big plays and were thwarted by a whistle on what would have been a late go-ahead touchdown.

The result was a 35-23 defeat before a sparse Reliant Stadium crowd of 22,707.

"It was the first time all year that we played that well," Bulls coach Willie Taggart said. "To be down like we were and to come back and lose the game, it's tough."

Connecting with a smorgasbord of receivers all night, White cut USF's deficit to 28-23 with a 14-play, 75-yard second-half drive that spanned 7:09.

It ended with his 2-yard lob pass to 6-foot-5 tight end Mike McFarland in the left corner of the end zone with 11:50 to go.

The Bulls' ensuing possession was thwarted by a sack and two penalties. New life was granted when Mark Joyce forced Houston returner Damian Payne to fumble Mattias Ciabatti's punt and Fidel Montgomery recovered with 5:42 to play.

Three plays later, junior Andre Davis (nine catches, 134 yards) appeared to haul in White's third-and-10 fade pass near the right corner of the end zone. Officials, however, flagged Davis for pass interference.

A play later, on third and 25 from Houston's 42, White was sacked by defensive end Tyus Bowser and fumbled. Defensive lineman Jeremiah Farley recovered for Houston at midfield.

"I saw a catch for a touchdown," Taggart said of Davis' would-be go-ahead reception.

"I thought I went up and made a good play," Davis added. "It was good protection, a good throw. I mean, the referees obviously saw the play different, and they called me for a pass interference."

The flag was among a season-high 19 thrown against the Bulls (2-6, 2-2 American Athletic Conference). It was the most penalties by a team in a Division I-A game this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

"That's the first time where we've had that many penalties," Taggart said. "I wouldn't say it's because our football team is undisciplined, but …you just can't have it."

When not vexed by whistles, USF was exorcising its most prominent statistical ghoul of the year, behind a rookie QB. White finished with 26 completions on 41 attempts for 311 yards — all USF season-highs.

"Special kid, man," Davis said. "He does what he does. He's a great quarterback, smart quarterback. One day this week I caught him up in the facility, he was up there until 11 getting better for football, for this game."

White's 8-yard touchdown to McFarland early in the second — the first college scoring pass and catch for both — ended USF's streak of quarters without an offensive TD at 13. For the game, White hooked up with 10 different receivers. "Guys played for him," Taggart said. "Guys made those catches; we had some drops the week before. … He put it in there where only our receivers could catch it at times."

Yet he couldn't quite stand throw-to-throw with fellow freshman John O'Korn (22-for-27, 263 yards, three TDs), at least initially.

By the end of the third, Houston (7-1, 4-0) had scored TDs on drives of four, three and two plays, mounting a 28-16 lead.

The hosts sealed things with Kenneth Farrow's 5-yard scoring run with 1:40 to go.

"We were terrible tackling today," Taggart said.

Slightly sharper than O'Korn was Kloss. The fourth-year junior nailed field goals of 39, 50 and 49 yards to extend his streak to 13, establishing a program record.

USF loses to Houston 10/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 6:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bruce Arena blends intense demands with humor to lead U.S. soccer


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Bruce Arena bites his fingernails religiously, a habit he has had since age 10.

    Among some other unmentionables.

    Bruce Arena
  2. Red state: Yes, Bill O'Reilly is a Bucs fan


    TAMPA -- The question was simple enough for Bucs fans: Why is former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly wearing a red Bucs polo?

    O'Reilly was wearing the polo during a few video clips from his "No Spin News" podcast posted on his website Monday, which was exciting news for some Bucs fans and not-so-exciting …

    Former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was sporting a red Bucs polo during his "No Spin News" video podcast Monday. An assistant said the shirt was given to him by former Bucs tight end Dave Moore.
  3. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP


    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  4. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst


    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  5. Rank the top 10 Bucs players? Here's what fans said


    We mentioned this morning that is was a fun challenge, in response to Sports Illustrated's ranking of the NFL's top 400 players, to ask fans to rank their top 10 Bucs players.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston during last year's Bucs win against the Seahawks. Evans and Winston finished 1-2 in an informal Twitter poll of fans ranking their top Bucs players.