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Bulls ‘fall short’ late once again

Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012

Updated: Sunday, October 7, 2012 22:10

USF had its chance to drive down the field for a season-altering victory with 3:49 remaining in the game and 68 yards from the end zone. But the result was a blocked field goal.

For the third time in four losses, the USF football team was unable to close out strong for a victory on Saturday against Temple. The latest loss, 38-27 to the Owls, has the Bulls on a four-game skid entering their off week.

After a back-and-forth second half in Philadelphia, in which a 9-7 halftime score turned into a 30-28 loss with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bulls took the field with two timeouts and a chance to win the game with a score.

Boosted by a roughing the passer call after an incompletion on fourth and five, the Bulls faced a third and one with just over a minute remaining from the Temple 23-yard line. A first down, and the team could have virtually run out the clock and kicked a chip shot field goal to win the game and put the Bulls at 1-1 in Big East play with the bye week upcoming.

Senior quarterback B.J. Daniels — limited to six rushing yards because of an ankle injury — handed off to senior Demetris Murray, who was dropped for a 5-yard loss. After a Temple timeout, senior Maikon Bonani attempted a 45-yard field goal, which was blocked, sending USF to its fourth straight loss.

“We had an inside play called initially. We had been having some success up the middle,” coach Skip Holtz said. “But coach (Todd) Fitch mentioned going to the outside, which I thought was a great idea, but we didn’t execute it. I don’t think it was the play call as much as it was executing the play.”

Regardless of the blame, the game was another in a string of late losses for the Bulls. This season, the Bulls had the ball with a chance to take the lead against both Rutgers and Ball State, but ultimately fell short. In 2011, USF was unable to cash in on late drives against both Connecticut and West Virginia.

“It seems like we are in a ‘Groundhog Day’ event almost,” Holtz said. “The team continued to compete and even had a chance to kick a game-winning field goal right at the end. But it seems like we keep making mistakes that have us beat.”

Senior linebacker Mike Lanaris said he was confident the offense would be able to come through after the defense forced a three-and-out prior to USF’s late drive.

“There was a really good vibe on the sideline,” he said. “Cause the defense had done what it was supposed to do in that situation, even though there were times earlier where we didn’t. I had all the confidence in the world in our offense and they just fell short.”

“Just fell short” has become a mantra for late losses by the USF football team, a mantra the team is looking to separate itself from. After a week off, the Bulls will head to Kentucky to take on Big East favorite Louisville, and will look to avoid the team’s second consecutive 0-3 conference start.

“It’s tough, it’s still heavy in our hearts,” senior running back Lindsey Lamar said. “Temple was a great team, they made the plays when they had to make them, and it hurts worse because of how badly we wanted this win.”

 

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