Head coach Jim Leavitt watched his team commit untimely penalties and make costly mistakes on special teams. ORACLE PHOTO/JOSE LOPEZ JR.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The came-out-of-nowhere team of 2007 was stopped by the team with the same billing from last season.
The Bulls’ storybook season was shredded in front of a record 44,267 fans at Rutgers Stadium well before the failed fourth-and-37 from their own 24.
A touchdown pass from Andrew DePaola on a fake field goal attempt with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter extended Rutgers’ lead to 27-17.
“We had our arms wrapped around the guy throwing the ball and he did a great job throwing the ball,” Leavitt said. “I thought it was a great football play.”
The touchdown pass was the second trick play Rutgers ran on special teams. A 36-yard pass from Jeremy Ito to James Townsend led to a field goal, the first points of the game.
USF had special-teams heroics of its own, but a reversal from the booth overturned a potential touchdown.
The Bulls blocked a field goal attempt from Ito that was picked up by Mike Jenkins. While running, Jenkins had the ball stripped and Tyrone McKenzie began running it back. When McKenzie fumbled, Trae Williams scooped up the loose ball and scored a touchdown.
No penalties were called on the play, but when it was reviewed in the booth, the officials reversed the touchdown call and spotted the ball on the USF 39-yard line.
The Bulls failed to convert any points on the possession when Delbert Alvarado missed a 45-yard field goal.
“When we picked it up I thought we scored – somehow the replay showed we didn’t score,” Leavitt said. “I was certainly disappointed by that … they had a turn of events that led to 10 points.”
The struggles on special teams continued late in the game as numerous penalties won the field position battle throughout the second half. USF finished with 10 penalties for 99 yards.
Rutgers had only two possessions in the second half that began behind their 34-yard line.
“They got out the gate a few times, that’s not good … (it) gave them real good field position,” Leavitt said. “That hurt us, certainly.”
Despite all of the mistakes and calls against them, the Bulls still had an opportunity to win the game. USF forced a punt, gaining possession with 1:33 left and trailing 30-27.
Facing a first-and-10 from their 40-yard line, Matt Grothe was sacked, eliminating any chance for a potential game-tying field goal.
“We both played a good game, they just did everything correct,” linebacker Brouce Mompremier said. “You have to give your hats off to them.”