It was the largest crowd to ever watch a USF football game at Raymond James Stadium for Saturday’s Homecoming game against Army — too bad for the Bulls most left before the game was over.
Army came to USF a 15-point underdog with nine straight road losses and left with a stunning come-from-behind 42-35 victory. With the win, the Black Knights have consecutive wins for the first time since 1997.
“It was one of the toughest losses we’ve had in eight years,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said. “Not because it was Army. I’m going to tell you right now Army is a good football team. It’s because we had an opportunity. Our offense came out in the third quarter to go all the way down and score when we were two touchdowns up. Usually when we’re in that position we do a pretty good job but we didn’t. That’s why it makes it a tough loss.”
By the end of the game, the teams’ respective running backs were the story in the high-scoring affair. USF’s Andre Hall dominated the first half and Army’s Carlton Jones couldn’t be stopped in the second.
After the Bulls had built a 28-14 lead that lasted through most of the third quarter, Jones went to work, with touchdown runs on five consecutive Army drives. His touchdown runs of 59, 74, 6, 13, and 1 yards put the Black Knights up for good.
“We had eight guys in the box,” Leavitt said. “You can’t get any more than that or you’re not going to cover the receivers. Our guys just have to make plays.”
Jones averaged 12.5 yards per carry and finished with 225 on the night.
All Hall could do was watch as the USF lead evaporated.
The JUCO transfer was the biggest reason why the Bulls jumped out to an early lead. Like Jones was for Army, Hall seemed unstoppable until a neck strain sidelined him in the third quarter.
An 18-yard Hall touchdown run gave USF a 7-0 lead. After Army tied the game, Hall answered back with a 21-yard touchdown run. The Bulls took a 14-4 lead into halftime and things looked good for the Bulls until Hall’s injury in the third quarter. After that, the Bulls offense didn’t seem to have much.
Hall finished with 200 yards on the ground, missing much of the third quarter and all of the fourth. His total is the most a USF player has run against a Division I opponent.
Quarterback Pat Julmiste rushed for two touchdowns and threw his only passing score to Joe Bain with just over a minute left in the game.
The win was only Army’s second in 21 games. Before the Black Knights defeated Cincinnati the previous week, they had the nation’s longest losing streak at 19 games.
While Leavitt said it was the program’s toughest loss, Hall hated to see the seniors lose on Homecoming.
“This is the worst,” Hall said. “There are so many seniors on this team and this is their last Homecoming. This means a lot to those guys and it means a lot to me because of that.”