Two down, two to go.
The USF football team easily took care of East Carolina 41-17 on Saturday night and is gaining momentum as it aims for a chance for postseason play.
The Bulls followed last week’s win over UAB with a convincing defeat of the Pirates for the team’s first back-to-back wins of the season, but the team still needs two wins to become bowl eligible.
“We know that our backs are against the wall right now,” defensive tackle Lee Roy Selmon said. “Basically, there’s no room for mistake, there’s no room for error. There’s no room for another loss.”
After a 2-4 start, the Bulls have reached a .500 record with three games to play. USF likely needs to win the next two games to be considered for a bowl game. A win over Pittsburgh on in Dec. 4 season finale would likely be too late to become bowl eligible, as officials like to have matchups set early to sell tickets.
The win against the Pirates kept USF in the running. The offense supplied the Bulls (4-4, 3-3) with an early lead that the defense easily held. Backup kicker Justin Geisler led the special teams, filling in for injured Santiago Gramatica.
“It was a good win, solid all the way around,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said.
The Bulls took a 17-3 lead into halftime and built on it early in the second half.
Running back Andre Hall’s 18-yard scramble just over three minutes into the third quarter put the Bulls up 24-3 and the team had a comfortable lead the rest of the game.
USF quarterback Pat Julmiste played well for the second week in a row. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 233 yards without an interception and rushed for a pair of touchdowns. He ran for 69 yards.
Hall came into the game looking to break a pair of feats in front of the home crowd. He needed 178 rushing yards to break 1,000 yards on the season and 195 yards to break USF’s all-time single-season rushing record, but could only manage 161.
East Carolina (2-7, 2-5C-USA) came with one of the worst offenses in the country and the Bulls defense easily shut it down, holding the Pirates to just 247 yards of offense.
“We had been giving up scores and everything, so we took it upon ourselves to play hard,” said Sidney Simpson, who picked off the first two passes of his career including one for a touchdown.
Freshman wide receiver Johnny Peyton said he has no doubt the Bulls will win the next two games. Leavitt is happy the Bulls still have a chance.
“We’ve got Cincinnati coming up where it will be cold on the turf and they’re probably the hottest team in the conference right now,” Leavitt said. “It’s going to take a heck of a game plan next week for our players to have a shot. At least we’re in the hunt.”