The 20th Ranked Cougars of Houston fight off the Bulls of USF.
[Tampa, FL] On a cold night in Tampa, the Bulls of South Florida, welcomed the 20th ranked Houston Cougars to Raymond James stadium as their homecoming guest.USF was trying to bounce back after a disappointing loss to the Pirates of East Carolina. The Cougars were looking to extend their series lead to 6 wins against only 2 losses and rain on USF’s homecoming festivities (The team from Texas has won 5 straight games in the series).
South Floridas’ Sophomore running back Brian Battie did not disappoint as he scored 3 touchdowns on the night. The Sarasota native opened the scoring returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for the Bulls first blood. Later in the first quarter Battle then rushed for a 29-yard score (his second touchdown of the game). In the second quarter, after the Cougars took the lead Battie struck again with his second 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Bulls running back becomes the first USF player to have multiple 100-yard returns. Battie said, “It’s one of the best feelings ever.”
— USF Football (@USFFootball) November 8, 2021
Despite USF’s quarterback Timmy McClain, throwing an interception on a 4th and 1 in the 2nd quarter with 2:32 remaining he played a solid game. He was 22/46 for 289-yards 2 Touchdowns and 2 Interception. Wide out Xavier Weaver, had 11 targets 5 receptions for 91 yards, his longest was a 40-yard toss from McClain. Bulls Senior Tight End Mitchell Brinkman would catch a 33-yard touchdown pass helping The Green and Gold amass 399 yards of total offense.
Before the half, McClain had an opportunity to run for a first down on a 4th and 1, instead he elected to pull up and throw towards the endzone and was returned 100 yards for a touchdown. However, the play was called back on a Houston holding penalty. Another play that was questioned, was the delay of game after Houston punted pinning USF at the 1- yard line in the first quarter. A delay of game at home and you’re backed up to your own 1-yard line and now it’s 3rd and 10, and the Bulls run the ball and Houston’s stops that with a safety. The Jubilant and vibrant home coming crowd was silenced; you could hear a pin drop in the stadium. The first half was a back-and-forth shootout for the most part as the Bulls racked up 232 first half yards berfore entering the locker room.
— USF Football (@USFFootball) November 7, 2021
on the night Houston quarterback Clayton Tune was 21/26 for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cougars running back’s Ta’Zhawn Henry and Alton McCaskill with a combined 32 attempts tallied 255 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Cougars had 646 total yards of offense. Tune was asked, if Henry was caught on his 97-yard touchdown run how bad would he have heard about it? “Oh, he would have never lived it down,” was the Cougars QB response.
It was the first time in Houston’s 67-year football program that they had 2 running backs and 2 wide receivers eclipse over 100 yards. Sophomore Wide out Nathaniel Dell, had 10 targets 8 receptions for 164 yards, his longest reception was for 55 yards and 1 touchdown. Meanwhile Houston Junior Wide out KeSean Carter had 6 targets, 6 receptions, for 123 yards. Carters’ longest reception went for 29 yards.
Houston’s Head Coach Dana Holgorsen commented on his game plan “I wanted to establish our run game.” When asked about the Bulls starting the game with the kick return for the initial score, he was not happy about it. “I am tired of seeing kick returns; I think we have seen 5 kick returns over the past couple of weeks; three of them were ours.” Then he was asked about Tight End Jake Herslow’s touchdown catch that was originally ruled incomplete; then the call was reversed to a touchdown. Coach Holgorsen said, “I think he’s the best special team’s player and a walk-on maybe I should’ve gone back and gave him a scholarship. I was mad about the kick return for a touchdown, so I think I missed it. I was yelling and having a coaching moment and encouraging.”
— American Football (@American_FB) November 7, 2021
The Bulls tackling woes still are haunting them, despite their goal line stops in the first half. The start of the third quarter the Bulls defense collapsed allowing the Cougars to take the ball down on the opening drive for 67 yards, on 5 plays, in 2 minutes and 06 seconds, for a touchdown. Then on the Cougars second possession Houston’s running back Henry, gashes the Bulls defense for 97- yard touchdown.
Coach Jeff Scott said, “We didn’t give up, we just ran out of gas.” The coach was happy that the offensive line kept the Freshman quarterback clean not giving a sack up to the Houston defense that has 4 sacks per game. It was noticed by Houston’s Head Coach Dana, “That kid (Timmy McClain), is going to be something special we weren’t able to get to him; he made some good plays.”
The Bulls are hosting #2 Cincinnati on Friday, November 12. They will try to knock off their first Top 25 opponent since knocking off #16 Notre Dame (2011). The Bulls have now lost 18 straight against Top 20 opponents. The Bulls record is now 2-7 over all and 1-4 in Conference. The Houston Cougars record improves to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in Conference as they head to Temple.
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