No. 23 USF running back Jordan Cronkrite ran his way into the school’s record book Saturday in the Bulls’ 58-42 victory against UMass at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst, Mass.
Cronkrite seemed to find every hole provided by the Bulls’ offensive line as he ran for 302 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns. He surpassed the previous USF single-game record of 275 yards, which was set previously by both Andre Hall (2004) and Marlon Mack (2014). He also became the AAC single-game record holder by passing Navy’s Malcolm Perry (282 yards in 2017).
Cronkrite’s 302 yards can’t be chalked up as an individual effort, however. He was quick to commend his teammates on their performance.
“It was a great job by the offensive line,” Cronkrite said. “I was just using my God-given skills and just doing what I could do to help my team win.”
In USF’s (5-0, AAC 1-0) last game against ECU, the offensive line allowed six sacks, but held UMass (2-5) to just two.
Another way Cronkrite helped the Bulls was by preventing an interception return for a touchdown. He recorded one tackle and was the last person who could have tackled UMass’ Bryton Barr on his way to the end zone.
The Bulls scored on their first play from scrimmage on a 72-yard Blake Barnett touchdown pass to Tyre McCants to get the offense started early. Barnett completed 17-24 passes for 209 yards.
The Bulls’ rushing attack took center stage and freshman running back Johnny Ford was more than a formidable sidekick to Cronkrite. Ford rushed for 77 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. Ford’s first touchdown of the day, with less than two minutes in the first half, propelled the Bulls to a 20-14 halftime advantage.
The Bulls’ offense performed better in the third quarter by scoring 28 points en-route to their seven total touchdowns and 574 yards from scrimmage.
In addition to a successful day on offense, the Bulls’ special teams were executing on their plays.
Place kicker Coby Weiss was perfect connecting on all three of his field goals and seven extra point attempts. Vincent Davis also provided a special teams spark by forcing two fumbles on kickoffs and picking one up for a touchdown midway through the third quarter.
Defensively, the Bulls did enough to escape with a victory, but left a lot to be desired. The defense gave up 486 total yards, but only 85 yards on the ground.
“We’ve got to play better than how we played,” coach Charlie Strong said. “Cronkrite, big day for him and we ended up with five turnovers on defense.”
Although USF continued its undefeated season, the Bulls weren’t firing on all cylinders. Several turnovers and a dominant rushing performance kept the shootout competitive. Moving forward, however, Strong expects his team to click.
“We’re a better football team than what we’re showing right now,” he said. “We’ve got to put it together.”