If the social media outcry in the immediate wake of USF’s loss at Temple was any sign, the fan base was doubling down on Jeff Scott’s decision-making in the waning moments of the 39-37 defeat.
In addition to criticizing the Bulls' failed two-point try — a keeper by quarterback Noah Johnson to the short side of the field — fans also admonished their new coach for calling a timeout before the play.
As a result, Temple was able to run out the clock on its final possession.
Scott’s explanation: “I knew the game was on the line and I wanted to have enough time for us to decide what we wanted to do. Basically, that was the game right there at that point. You’ve got about an 8 percent chance to get an onside kick.”
Indeed, the Owls recovered and netted only 3 yards on the ensuing three plays, but USF could stop the clock only twice. The game ended with a Temple punt.
Short list of sidelined Bulls
USF had only seven players listed as unavailable for Saturday’s game, the Bulls' second-shortest list of the season. Among those returning were outside linebacker Dwayne Boyles (from a three-game absence) and safety Mekhi LaPointe (two games).
Boyles had a team-high nine tackles, blocked a field goal and had a pass breakup. LaPointe had five tackles and an interception.
“It was different all week whenever (Boyles) showed back up on Monday, just his presence on the field,” Scott said.
“He’s kind of like our quarterback on defense. He lines everybody up and does a good job communicating out there. I really feel like with Dwayne and Mekhi LaPointe, I could tell a difference for us defensively, having those guys back.”
Odds and ends
The Bulls' third touchdown of the day was set up and finished by Armwood High alumni. LaPointe’s interception of Anthony Russo set up Noah Johnson’s 2-yard scoring run four plays later. ... Johnny Ford, who entered the game ranked 11th nationally in kick returns (28.3 yards per attempt), averaged 28 on three tries Saturday. ... Junior Randall St. Felix’s 13-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was his first since the Bulls' 45-20 win at East Carolina on Oct. 26, 2019. That also was USF’s last conference triumph. ... Walk-on Kenny Scribner punted in place of veteran Trent Schneider, who was nursing an unspecified injury. Scribner had a long of 59 yards, but averaged only 33 yards on his five other attempts.
“Hell, where I am right now, I’m happy we made the field goal. Just being quite honest, we hadn’t kicked many this year. I was happy as hell that we made the field goal and went up 11.”
Scott, on settling for a 29-yard Jared Sackett field goal following a 56-yard interception return