GAINESVILLE — South Florida’s undefeated all-white uniforms were unable to carry the legacy when facing No. 18 Florida on Saturday, falling to the Gators 31-28.
Between facing a powerful opponent to the sounds of the 88,496 fans in The Swamp, this matchup was one of the Bulls’ more considerable challenges this season.
Despite the loss, the Bulls (1-2) performed well over the Gators (2-1) and made substantial strides in comparison to their two previous games against BYU on Sept. 3 and Howard on Sept. 10.
Statistically, USF’s offense racked up a total of 402 total yards while Florida finished with 329 yards. Coach Jeff Scott was pleased to see the much needed development this sector needed.
“Credit to [offensive coordinator] coach Trickett and our offensive staff coming up with a really good game plan,” Scott said. “I felt like we kept them off balance with our running game.
“Obviously, we ran [junior quarterback] Gerry [Bohanon] more. He had over 100 yards but he had a big game. From that standpoint, really proud that we had over 200 yards rushing there in the first half.”
Bohanon’s 12-28 completion rate may seem under par, but his performance on the field has improved. He contributed to the scoreboard with one touchdown along with 116 passing yards and 102 rushing yards.
USF started off strong with a 7-3 lead in the first quarter, with sophomore running back Brian Battie carrying a ball to the end zone in a 10-yard rush.
Following an unexpected quarter, the Gators answered with three touchdowns and a field goal to regain control of the game 24-10. In the final moments of the first half, the Bulls scraped an additional field goal to put themselves 24-13.
At the start of the second half, USF was able to trail behind UF 24-21 after Bohanon’s 6-yard rushing touchdown.
In the final moments of the last quarter of the game, USF stayed persistent and aggressive offensively in an attempt to secure its second win of the season. After a 1-yard rush touchdown by junior running back Michel Dukes to put the Bulls in the lead 28-24, the Gators inched closer to the South Florida end zone.
Florida continued to press against the Bulls, finalizing its 31-28 win with a 3-yard rush in the last five minutes.
To Scott, some small miscues between the team are what lead to USF’s fall.
“I felt like our guys played well enough outside of a couple miscues. Obviously, the three turnovers on offense hurt, led to 17 points and wound up being a pick six, it was costly,” Scott said.
“We did get two turnovers on defense and and then again, just some costly penalties that were disappointing. Just had some mistakes at the wrong time. This hurts, and nobody in the locker room is happy for keeping it close.”
Although another loss has been added to the column for the Bulls, there was one major success the team achieved against the Gators, according to Scott.
“We came here to win the game, and I’ve got no doubt in my mind that our team believed that we could win the game before it started,” he said.
“I really told them I want to see two things tonight in this game. I want to see us play hard for four quarters, because we hadn’t done that all year. And then I want to see us have fun, and we did both of those things.”
The Bulls will remain on the road to play Louisville on Sept. 17 at 12 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ACCN, 102.5 FM/102.5 HD-2 and Bulls Unlimited.