USF still is the undisputed king of double overtime, and victories don't get much wilder than Saturday night's.
The Bulls rallied twice for tying touchdowns in the final seven minutes, got two touchdowns in overtime from Andre Hall, then became the latest recipient of college football's trendiest way to win when Texas Christian botched the extra point in the second overtime, giving USF a wild 45-44 victory before 27,546 at Amon Carter Stadium.
It's the fourth time in less than a year that the Bulls have won a conference game in double overtime.
One week after the Bulls (2-1) couldn't score a touchdown against South Carolina, they got six, with sophomore quarterback Pat Julmiste overcoming two fumbles for a superb game, owning TCU (2-2) on third down. As down as the Bulls were after last weekend's loss, they have opened the Conference USA schedule with a huge road win against last year's conference runnerup.
"The last two games we hadn't stepped up, but we had to for our defense. Big-time players always step up in big games," Julmiste said.
Not that it was easy getting there. Julmiste led the Bulls on touchdown drives of 68 and 73 yards in the closing minutes, converting two third and 10s, plus a fourth down for a touchdown. Joe Bain's 53-yard catch set up Clenton Crossley's 3-yard touchdown run to tie the score with 1:21 left.
In the first overtime, two USF penalties helped TCU to its first score, an 8-yard touchdown run by Lonta Hobbs. Julmiste got first downs on passes to S.J. Green and Jackie Chambers, setting up Hall's third touchdown to tie the score. Hall scored again from 13 yards in double overtime for a 45-38 USF lead.
Hall's four touchdowns overall tied a school record set in 1997 by Jermaine Clemons and matched in 1999 by Dyral McMillan.
USF forced fourth and 1 in double overtime, but quarterback Brandon Hassell took a bootleg for a 16-yard touchdown, which looked to send the game into triple overtime. But Andre Calovich sent a low snap that holder Reeves Dalton couldn't handle, and he was tackled to end the game and seal a win that was strangely familiar for USF.
The Bulls thrived in double overtime last year, winning three conference games in the second extra period. Add in a 1999 double-overtime win against New Hampshire, and the Bulls had never lost in overtime.
"We've been in this situation before; we were hoping for a botched snap or a blocked kick and that's exactly what we've got," Julmiste said.
Turnovers and penalties nearly doomed the Bulls, who handed TCU 45 yards on three personal foul penalties on one fourth-quarter drive. USF had 16 penalties for 148 yards in regulation, plus two more in overtime, and Julmiste saw a career-best passing night spoiled by two fumbles that led to TCU touchdowns.
For all the mistakes, USF still was able to tie with 3:58 to play, blocking a TCU field goal and then marching 68 yards, getting a fourth-down touchdown pass from Julmiste to Hall.
TCU had not converted a third down all night, but Hobbs broke loose on a 16-yard run for a first down, then took a pass 46 yards untouched to the end zone, breezing past three Bulls defensive backs for a 31-24 lead. The Bulls still had time on the clock and more improbable third downs to convert.
USF got the ball back on its 27 with 2:51 to play, needing another long touchdown drive to tie. Julmiste converted another third and 10, connecting with Green for a 19-yard gain to the USF 46, then found Bain on another third and 10 for a 53-yard gain to the TCU 1. Two plays later, Crossley had a touchdown to tie at 31. Bain, a Pasco grad, caught four passes for first downs, all on third and long. In all, the Bulls set a school record for third downs converted, one week after they went 2-for-13 on third down at South Carolina.
USF gave itself a chance to tie when Bruce Gipson blocked Peter LoCoco's 33-yard field goal with 6:42 remaining. Julmiste hit Hall for a 30-yard gain, then converted another third down with a 13-yard pass to Bain. Facing fourth and 6 from the TCU 17 with 4:04 to play, the Bulls went for it, and Julmiste found Hall open for a touchdown in the left side of the end zone. Santiago Gramatica's extra point tied it at 24 with 3:58 left.
It was a breakout game for Hall, who made his first start and rushed for more than 100 yards, including a 58-yard burst that goes down as the longest nonscoring run in school history. He ran for three touchdowns and caught another on fourth down in the fourth quarter.