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USF drops fourth straight after a strong first half against Temple

PHILADELPHIA — USF football continued its worst losing streak since 2013, falling to Temple 27-17 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

The Bulls loss Saturday is their fourth-straight loss, USF’s most consecutive losses since dropping six straight to end the 2013 season.

The Bulls took a lead into halftime for the second straight week, leading 17-0 after two touchdown rushes by Jordan Cronkrite and a 35-yard field goal by Coby Weiss. But, for the second straight week, USF did not come away with the lead after the second half.

“Any time you lose, it’s disheartening,” cornerback Ronnie Hoggins said. “As a team, we’ve got to stick together. We’ve got another game next week, we’ve got to move on. We lost this one and it hurts, but it’s on to the next one against our rival from the team out east [UCF], so we’ve got to move on and get on to the next one.”

The second half was completely different from the first half — Temple scored 27 unanswered points during the final 30 minutes.

“I want to say it’s reverse roles,” Cronkrite said. “Normally it’s we don’t come to play in the second half … this time, it’s we came to play and then second half — nothing.”

It wasn’t all bad for the Bulls, as on the first drive of the game, Cronkrite broke out for a 49-yard rush that put the junior running back over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season, becoming just the fifth USF player in program history to reach such a plateau.

Still, though, it was in a loss, which made the accomplishment bittersweet for Cronkrite.

“Right now, to be honest, it’s bittersweet,” Cronkrite said. “Obviously, we just lost another game. It was a great feeling — it’s a big accomplishment for me. It’s something I’ve never done. A lot of my role models have done it numerous times. It’s a great feeling. But, it’s bittersweet right now.”

Quarterback Blake Barnett, whose status was in doubt after missing last week’s game against Cincinnati and being limited during practice in the week leading up to the Temple game, was back under center for the Bulls. Barnett completed 14 of his 23 passes for 82 yards and was intercepted twice.

After the game, a very emotional Barnett — on the verge of tears — put the blame on himself.

“The coaches might say otherwise, the team might — but, honestly, personally, it’s really hard for me to not put that all on myself,” Barnett said. “Can’t have turnovers like that. Gotta play better. I’ve got to take it as a lesson. We still have one more game left. So, we’ve got to do everything we can to prepare for next week.”

Another injured Bull returned against Temple. Duran Bell, who had not seen action since Sept. 8 against Georgia Tech, rushed nine times for a total of 33 yards.

“I love Duran. I was very proud of him,” Cronkrite said. “I was extremely happy for him to go out there. And it’s nice having him out there. It’s less of a burden on my body as well.”

Up next for USF is the War on I-4 against UCF on Friday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff time has yet to be announced.