In Saturday night’s win to open the American Athletic Conference for USF, the Bulls’ offense experienced its first scare when sophomore quarterback Steven Bench went down with a knee injury in the tail end of the first quarter.
This was Bench’s second week as a starter, being expected to play a full game — something no other USF quarterback has done all season.
USF’s second, and biggest, scare was in the opening drive of the second quarter when the Bulls’ most dangerous and consistent weapon went down with a hamstring injury — it was the NCAA’s 12th leading rusher heading into the game, now the 21st leading rusher, senior Marcus Shaw.
He, like Bench, limped off the field as redshirt junior running back Michael Pierre and senior quarterback Bobby Eveld took over the offense.
And while the offense didn’t score a point throughout the night, it also didn’t give away any points to the defense — something the offense has been struggling with this season.
Finishing the night with 16 carries for 64 yards (4 yards per carry), including a Shaw-like 21-yard run setting up a field goal, Pierre stepped into Shaw’s cleats quite nicely.
Through the air, Eveld managed the offense better than he had all season. He completed 10-of-16 passes for 122 yards without throwing a single turnover.
Both Bench and Shaw were on the sidelines throughout the performance, Bench waiving his towel in celebration on one leg as Shaw pointed one of his crutches in the air in USF’s first win.
Career night for Kloss
Last season, redshirt junior Marvin Kloss handled the kickoffs for USF. This season he was given the position of place-kicker, and in the win over Cincinnati, Taggart said Kloss stepped up to the plate, or holder in this case.
With the offense not scoring a point Saturday, Kloss put up 14, ultimately giving USF its first win.
His four field goals of 25, 52, 24 and 40 yards were the most for USF since Maikon Bonani’s school record five field goals last season against Syracuse on Oct. 27.
Kloss’s 52-yarder was the longest kick of his career and the third longest in USF history. Two games prior, against FAU, the Florida native hit a 50-yard field goal — his first kick of 50 yards or more.
USF enters pick city, defense puts up points
Last season, the Bulls’ defense struggled with its secondary to snag just two
Senior safety Mark Joyce grabbed two picks, making for his first two of the season Saturday night. The last time Joyce recorded an interception was in 2010.
Joyce was the first USF player since Nate Allen, current NFL player and former Bull, to have two interceptions for USF against Syracuse in 2009.
The two picks for Joyce added to a blocked field goal from tight end Mike McFarland, returned for a touchdown by freshman defensive back Nate Godwin and a fumble recovered by senior linebacker DeDe Lattimore for a