TAMPA — USF’s 45-28 loss to No. 2 Cincinnati followed the Bulls’ season-long trend. They were competitive, scoring more points on the Bearcats’ elite defense than any team has so far. But it wasn’t enough, resulting in another loss on senior night at Raymond James Stadium.
“Ultimately the room for error is very small when you’re playing a top-five team like we played (Friday),” Bulls coach Jeff Scott said. “We knew that, and we made too many mistakes.”
Specifically, they had too many breakdowns in the middle of the game, when Cincinnati (10-0, 6-0 AAC) scored on five consecutive drives to turn a 7-0 deficit into a 31-7 lead. Offensively, the Bulls (2-8, 1-5) netted almost as many yards through Cincinnati penalties (35) as on offense (39) in the first half.
But the Bulls continued to show life that gives Scott optimism that a breakthrough remains on the horizon.
Running back Jaren Mangham rushed for two touchdowns. Quarterback Timmy McClain found Jimmy Horn for an 80-yard catch-and-run that cut the deficit to 31-21 late in the third quarter.
Most impressively, USF responded after it fumbled a kickoff. The Bulls stopped Cincinnati four times inside the 5, then McClain led a 98-yard touchdown drive to trim the deficit to 10 with six minutes left.
That sequence is what Scott said he’ll take away from the game — another sign of a refusal to quit in another loss.
“I hate that that’s the situation each and every week, but it is what it is…” Scott said. “We’re not a good enough team right now to kind of turn it on and turn it off.”
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