EAST HARTFORD, Conn. ― Today, lifelong soccer enthusiast Spencer Shrader feels like a bona fide American football player.
He’s got the grass stain and bruise to show for it.
The Newsome High alumnus, who played one year of football for the Wolves, helped cement USF’s 48-22 victory Saturday with a 22-yard scoring run on a fake field goal play installed earlier in the week. Shrader’s 175-pound frame took a shot as he lunged across the goal line, but the touchdown stood after a brief review.
“It hurt, but it was worth it for sure," Shrader said. "It was fun to be a real part of the team and like, hype up the guys and get that energy going.”
The fake, called a “flip play,” began with Shrader lining up to attempt a 39-yard field goal with 9:07 remaining. Instead, holder/punter Trent Schneider flipped the ball to Shrader, who scurried around the right side.
“I’m on the sideline just hanging out, ready to get in the game,” Shrader said. “And Coach (Charlie) Strong comes up to me and he’s like, ‘Are you ready to do this? Do you have confidence in yourself?’ I’m like, ‘All right, I’ve been playing football for a year and a half, but I’ll go for it. Let’s do it.’”
After graduating from Newsome in 2018, Shrader spent several months in Brazil and Canada pursuing a pro soccer career before arriving at USF. His sister, Sophie, plays for the Bulls women’s soccer team.
“The thing about him, he can run," Strong said. "(Jacob) Mathis sealed a ’backer inside, which was a great block; I mean, unbelievable block. And he was able to outrun the guy to the corner.”
Johnny Ford suspended again
Strong offered no timetable on the return of leading receiver Johnny Ford, suspended for the second time this season for an unspecified violation.
Ford, a sophomore switched primarily to slot receiver after running for nearly 800 yards last season, also was suspended for the season opener against Wisconsin. Because he has appeared in only three games, a redshirt season remains an option.
“There’s gonna be some working time for him," Strong said. "We’re just gonna watch that happen and watch it develop.”
Meantime, Strong said he’s hopeful senior quarterback Blake Barnett (high-ankle sprain) can be available for next weekend’s homecoming game against BYU. Barnett spent most of the week in a protective boot and didn’t travel with the team to Connecticut.
“Just by him today not playing, it really helped him," Strong said. "And if he could get back for BYU it would really help us as a team.”
Odds and ends
• Senior tailback Trevon Sands’ 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the first of his career. Sands finished with seven carries for a career-best 64 yards.
• Tampa Catholic alumnus Bentlee Sanders’ 67-yard kickoff return in the first half, which set up a touchdown, was a career long.
• The Bulls had four scoring drives covering at least 80 yards, one more than they had in their first four games combined.
• USF is 16-1 under Strong when it runs for at least 200 yards in a game.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.