With USF’s game on the road against in-state rival and five-time national champion Miami in doubt, true freshman walk-on quarterback Bobby Eveld did the improbable.
Eveld, a walk-on from Jesuit High School, was thrust into the game to start the second half after a quad injury sidelined sophomore B.J. Daniels.
Trailing 17-10 with 4:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, Eveld directed a game-tying, nine-play, 81-yard scoring drive that culminated with his 1-yard touchdown plunge with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Coach Skip Holtz said the team knew Eveld was capable of successfully guiding the team because it had prepared him for significant playing time a week earlier in the event that Daniels’ lingering injury kept him from seeing the field.
“What he did today doesn’t shock me, but I’m really proud that he was able to go out there in that environment in that pressure in a game like that on national television and do what he did,” Holtz said. “I’m really proud of him.”
It was how he led the Bulls down the field with their vertical passing game, which had been virtually nonexistent to that point, that was most impressive.
First, Eveld, who went 8-for-15 passing for 120 yards, found sophomore wide receiver Joel Miller on second-and-nine for 15 yards to the Bulls’ 35. Then, he connected with senior wide receiver Dontavia Bogan on perfectly placed passes for gains of 27 and 21 yards before picking up the first rushing touchdown of his brief USF career.
After Miami took a 20-17 lead in overtime, Eveld located Miller across the middle for a nine-yard completion, setting the Bulls up for running back Demetris Murray’s game-winning 1-yard touchdown dive to send USF’s sidelines into a celebratory frenzy.
Holtz said he’s seen Eveld’s game improve considerably as the season has progressed.
“Bobby surprised me in camp,” he said. “Bobby was a lot better than I thought he was going to be – cerebrally picking it all up, being able to make the throws, the talent he has, the job that he does. I have not been afraid to say that Bobby has been our two all along. I really haven’t.
“I know we kept saying this, but he gets his opportunity, and he may not look back because that son of a gun is getting better and better, and he’s been making the most of every day and every week of getting better.”
Eveld said he got words of encouragement from some of his teammates at halftime, including Daniels, who offered him support and told him to avoid making turnovers.
“I was kind of excited, but at the same time, I was trying to calm myself down because I knew I needed to do a good job,” he said. “I didn’t want to try to do too much, just go in there and execute the basic plays. I felt like I was getting a little bit more comfortable toward the end there.”