Bulls’ last-minute drive doesn’t work out as hoped

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Quarterback Matt Grothe said he hates them.Bulls fans probably have bitten their fingernails down to the nub because of them.And they have caused coach Jim Leavitt to pull on his blonde hair – which if he continues to do, he’s going to have to hang up his visor for a cap.The down-to-the-wire conclusions of the last three USF games. Every game this season, it has boiled down to the last few plays of the fourth quarter.Saturday was no different. A last-minute drive by USF ended with the Bulls just 27 yards out from the end zone.The Bulls, down 13-7, were given the ball with just 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the game after the defense forced Kansas to punt the ball for a fourth time.Once the ball was given to Grothe, he threw two incomplete passes. But then he hit receiver Ean Randolph in stride, moving the ball 20 yards to the Jayhawks’ 41-yard line. An offsides penalty and a 14-yard Grothe scramble advanced USF to Kansas’ 27-yard line.On the next play with 13 seconds left, Grothe threw to Randolph again. But the ball went off his fingertips, terminating what would have been USF’s best chance to either score or come close.Another incomplete pass followed, and then Grothe was picked off in the final play of the game.”I really thought we’d win the game on the last drive,” said coach Jim Leavitt, who played his final collegiate game in Memorial Stadium as a Missouri defensive back in 1977. “We used our clock really well. … We came in here expecting to win, and we didn’t win. That’s disappointing.”We had three really good shots there (in the fourth quarter), but we can’t fumble, can’t make little mistakes.”It was the Bulls’ second drive in the fourth quarter when running back Walt Smith fumbled and Kansas defensive end Paul Como recovered. And on the first fourth-quarter drive, a 46-yard catch by receiver Amp Hill was negated when tight end Devin Gordon was called for pass interference.”We just got stopped (in the fourth quarter) – not really much more to talk about,” said Grothe, who went 17-for-32 passing with 196 yards and two interceptions. “We didn’t get it done; it just happens sometimes.”The Bulls, with 4:20 left in the game, were forced to go three and out because Grothe was sacked for a third time and then threw an incomplete pass to receiver Taurus Johnson.Grothe said going for it late in the game was the only option.”Yeah, definitely, we should have gone for it,” Grothe said. “Don’t regret it – you have to go for it. We just didn’t get what we really wanted: the win.”But as has been the case this season, the game came down to the Bulls’ end-of-the-game drive. Grothe said after the win against the University of Central Florida on Sept. 16, “I hate it (coming down to the last minute), but I like it. They were saying out on the field that we’re the comeback kids. We are.”Added defensive back Carlton Williams, who got his first start of the season Saturday at Kansas: “We put ourselves in plenty of opportunities to win the game, and we just couldn’t get it on the last play. Give it all to Kansas; they played a hell of a ball game.”