USF football collected its first win of head coach Alex Golesh’s inaugural season with a 38-24 victory over Florida A&M on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, breaking the program’s 11-game losing streak.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown scored five touchdowns in the win and notably recorded zero turnovers. He completed 20 of his 34 pass attempts for 197 yards and three passing touchdowns, adding 23 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
This marks Brown’s fourth career start and first victory. Golesh said he enjoys seeing the growth and development in his young starting quarterback, especially as Brown becomes more comfortable sitting in the pocket and improving his passing discipline.
“I continue to be proud of him. He’s just going to continue to grow as a quarterback and as a leader. It’s been really fascinating watching his growth through two weeks,” Golesh said.
After a costly redzone turnover last week against Western Kentucky, the Bulls’ offense played a much more efficient brand of football on Saturday. They recorded zero giveaways and scored on all five of their redzone trips.
The Rattlers (1-1) maintained a close lead throughout the game, but a fourth quarter Bulls (1-1) touchdown pass to junior receiver Naiem Simmons put the game out of reach for FAMU.
Both teams traded first possession touchdowns, with the Bulls scoring on a seven-yard touchdown reception to senior running back Nay’Quan Wright. Wright ran for 55 yards on nine carries. Senior Florida A&M running back Terell Jennings scored his second touchdown of the half to cut the Bulls’ lead to three at 17-14.
Senior tight end Jason Littlejohn scored a six-yard touchdown to put the lead back to 10. With only five seconds left in the second quarter, junior linebacker Jamie Pettway forced a fumble to prevent the Rattlers from scoring heading into halftime.
Brown gave the Bulls a two-score lead with a 13-yard rushing touchdown to close out the third quarter. Senior Rattlers quarterback Jeremy Moussa threw a 45-yard fourth quarter touchdown pass to junior receiver Kelvin Dean to put the Rattlers back in the game at 31-24. This marked the first time Florida A&M has scored over 20 points against the Bulls in program history.
A 31-yard Simmons touchdown reception recemented the Bulls’ lead early in the fourth quarter. The Rattlers last-minute comeback attempt was stopped by junior safety Logan Berryhill, who recorded his second interception of the night.
Despite scoring 38 points in the win, the Bulls’ offense struggled with penalties and missed opportunities throughout the game. USF recorded 14 penalties, totaling 114 yards. The program record for penalties stands at 18. Five of the Rattlers’ turnovers resulted in 10 points, however two of the turnovers came before each half ended.
“I think about the opportunities we left out there… the post-whistle penalties frustrate me, the times we didn’t get off the field frustrate me,” Golesh said.
USF struggled for the second consecutive week on third down, converting just eight of their 19 attempts.
However, USF showed improved defensively after allowing 465 yards of offense and 41 points last week.
The Bulls played an aggressive brand of football, recording five turnovers including intercepting Moussa three times. Golesh said he was impressed with the energy shown by his defense.
“I thought those guys for a second week in a row flew around. I think when you fly around and affect the quarterback, those [interceptions] will come,” Golesh said.
Junior safety Logan Berryhill was responsible for two of those five turnovers, recording his first career interception. The Bulls weren’t able to force any turnovers last week, making his two interceptions even more meaningful.
“Finally got a play, so it means a lot. But I think the biggest thing to me is we got the win,” Berryhill said.
Next week, USF will face off against powerhouse program Alabama in arguably its most difficult test in years. Coming from the SEC, Golesh has experience both playing and winning against the Crimson Tide. Last year, Tennessee defeated Alabama 52-49 on Oct. 15 in an offensive thriller.
“It’ll be fascinating to see where we are standing here on Saturday night and see where we are as a program… it’ll be really cool to see us go compete against one of the better teams in the country,” Golesh said.
USF will face off against Alabama on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ABC and Bulls Unlimited.