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USF football falls in final War on I-4

Interim coach Daniel Da Prato helped steer the ship for South Florida football in its final three games. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

With 20 seconds left in Saturday’s game, USF had a one-point lead. But a 14-yard reception by No. 22 UCF turned what could have been South Florida’s first upset of the season into its final heartbreak of 46-39.

The Bulls (1-11, 0-8 AAC) ended the season with 10-straight losses, and no wins over conference opponents. Saturday’s matchup extended USF’s War on I-4 losing streak to six, and the last rivalry game for the foreseeable future as UCF (9-3, 6-2 AAC) heads to the Big 12 next season.

Interim coach Daniel Da Prato was saddened by the final result, as it was an ending he didn’t want or expect.

“I don’t know why it didn’t turn out the way it did tonight,” Da Prato said. “These young men battled their tails off. They played their hearts out.”

Despite a major Bulls comeback in the second half, the Knights continued to press throughout the game, leaving the South Florida defense to struggle.

USF’s defense allowed UCF to rack up a total of 547 yards Saturday along with three touchdowns. Senior linebacker Dwayne Boyles not only blamed himself, but every player on the defensive line for not performing when they needed it the most.

“It comes down to execution of the players,” Boyles said. “First half, we came out slow. Obviously. We gave up 28 points.”

However, the group was able to force three recoveries on fumbles, two of which sourced from Boyles.

Though the Bulls campaign ended in a “rip-your-heart-out loss,” according to Da Prato, there were a lot of positives offensively.

Freshman quarterback Byrum Brown recorded 13 complete passes over 20 attempts with 140 passing yards and 109 rushing yards. With that, he also put up one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns.

Freshman quarterback Byrum Brown finished his first season as a Bull with 36 completions over 48 attempts in three games. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Even with USF going through three different quarterbacks this season, between junior Gerry Bohanon and sophomore Katravis Marsh, Brown ensured he would lead the team the best he could.

Sophomore running back Brian Battie believes Brown did his job well in the two games he started this season — against Tulsa and UCF.

“You can’t ask more from him,” Battie said. “He played great. He looks like he’s been back there for four years now. I’m proud of him, he’s got a great future. He kind of just proved that.”

Sophomore running back Brian Battie completed his second year at USF with 1,186 rushing yards. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Battie added another game with over 100 rushing yards to his stat line, his seventh of the season. In 19 attempts, Battie ran 144 yards down the field with his longest rush recorded at 68 yards.

South Florida’s final run of the season at Raymond James is not the end for now. The Bulls are still in search of a new head coach to hold a more successful tenure, one with more than just four wins in three years.

With the transfer portal deadline of Dec. 5 nearing, USF is expected to name its new coach soon.

“[The next coach is walking into] a bunch of guys that are hungry. That want to be great. A bunch of guys that want to win” Boyles said. “They want to change the program around.”

Director of Athletics Michael Kelly said in a Nov. 9 press conference he wants to announce his decision before the portal deadline. It is unknown whether Da Prato is in the running for the job.

“Whatever my future holds, I don’t know. That’s out of my control,” Da Prato said. “To take the way we finish the season, on the trajectory of where this program is going … and it’s going. I promise you that.”