The USF football team and the crowd of 33,368 watched in disbelief as TCU quarterback Tye Gunn took a knee to run out the final seconds of Friday night’s loss to the Horned Frogs, which snapped the Bulls’ 21-game home winning streak.
Exhausted and covered in sweat, Huey Whittaker walked slowly off the field. His blank expression told the story.
“I got nothing to say,” Whittaker said, as he made his way off the field toward the Bulls’ locker room.
After a career day against Louisville when he had nine catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, Whittaker was held to only four catches for 14 yards against No. 13 TCU’s 15th-ranked defense.
Friday night’s game against TCU was a game filled with firsts. It marked the first time USF hosted a nationally televised game. It was the first time the Bulls could score in and defend neatly painted end zones that proudly spelled “USF” in the north end and “Bulls” in the south. It was the Bulls’ first time playing the 2002 Conference USA co-champions. And it was the first time any member of this team except Lee Roy Selmon Jr. had played in a game the Bulls lost at home.
Junior Brian Fisher, who led a late charge and single-handedly got USF back in the game, said it was more than the battle for first place in C-USA that motivated him. He was playing for everyone who has ever been a part of the streak, guys like Maurice Jones and J.R. Reed that were there when the whole thing started.
When the streak first began in 2000 against Jacksonville State, Reed was on the field playing as a freshman. Friday night when he emerged from USF’s locker room after the loss, he said it would be hard for him to join his teammates on the bus.
“I don’t even want to go out there,” Reed said. “I don’t know how it’s going to be.”
Reed had seven tackles on the night, second only to fellow seniors Jones and Courtney Davenport, who each had eight.
“TCU is a pretty good team, but we still should have beat them. We shouldn’t lose to anybody. Close games are the ones that hurt the most,” Reed said. “I don’t know what happened. I never lost here before.”
Equaling a home win streak of this length will be tough for the Bulls now that they are in C-USA as they will host tough conference opponents year in and year out.
But the Bulls get a chance to start a new one when they host Charleston Southern on Saturday.