Immediately after watching East Carolina running back Anthony Scott’s 20-yard dash that stretched the Pirates’ lead to 11, USF students seemed to have had enough as they quickly vacated the north end zone of Raymond James Stadium.
After leading 17-7 at the half Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 31,567, USF allowed No. 19 East Carolina to surge ahead, extinguishing any hopes of a USF upset. The Bulls would go on to lose the game 28-17.
USF (2-4, 1-1) pulled away early with a 51-yard touchdown from sophomore quarterback Mike White to senior Andre Davis to put the Bulls up 7-0.
Both teams traded scores, ECU (5-1, 2-0) with a 35-yard touchdown catch by Breon Allen, while USF scored on a 12-yard scamper up the middle by freshman running back Marlon Mack leaving USF with a 10-point halftime lead.
“We just have to finish,” sophomore safety Nate Godwin said. “Two weeks in a row we’ve held a ranked team and we let them off the hook.”
ECU stormed out of halftime scoring 21 unanswered points with three consecutive scoring drives of 84, 86 and 79 yards giving the Pirates a 28-17 lead that would hold up.
Penalties played a major role in USF’s inability to move the ball in the second half. The Bulls continuously drove down the field only to have penalties pile up and kill the drive.
“We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot … ,” Taggart said. “We didn’t execute like we did in the first half and then we panicked.”
Senior quarterback Shane Carden, though not impressive, was efficient completing 24-of-33 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown.
USF’s defense allowed 481 yards of total offense to the Pirates, forcing only one turnover.
USF’s offense also showed promise. White went 21-for-41 for 257 yards and a touchdown.
Though a loss is nothing to be proud of, Davis has something to hold his head up for. Davis became USF’s all-time leader in receiving yards, passing Carlton Mitchell’s mark of 1,648. Davis’ six catches for 124 yards gives him 1,710 yards for his career.
“I came (to USF) with my eyes not necessarily set on records, but I felt I would get one eventually,” Davis said. “It was a great accomplishment.”
To add insult to injury, senior kicker Marvin “Money” Kloss was all but money, missing a 28-yard field goal with 31 seconds left in the game.
The Bulls will look to rebound once again as they travel to take on Tulsa on Saturday at noon.