Frank Harris, UTSA offense proves too much for USF in blowout loss

Despite the loss, senior wide receiver Sean Atkins set another program milestone after breaking the single-season reception record last week against Temple. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

The Bulls have struggled to defend against veteran quarterbacks all season long. 

It started with senior Rice quarterback J.T. Daniels, who threw for 432 yards and three touchdowns. Then it was junior UAB quarterback Jacob Zeno, who totaled five touchdowns. 

Junior Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan tossed 349 yards and four touchdowns in the highest-scoring game in USF program history a month later. 

Related: Takeaways: Defense spoils historic offensive output against Memphis

Senior Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris proved to be no exception. Harris torched USF’s (5-6, 3-4 AAC) defense as UTSA (8-3, 7-0 AAC) defeated the Bulls 49-21 at the Alamodome on Friday night. 

He finished the game with 411 passing yards and six touchdowns. He also racked up 112 yards rushing. Harris put up the second-most yards for an FBS quarterback in a single game this season

In the first matchup between the two programs, UTSA finished the game with 643 offensive yards — just 39 under the USF football program record for most yards allowed against Houston in 2018.

Despite losing a day of practice, Bulls coach Alex Golesh isn’t giving himself, or his team, any excuses. 

“It’s a short week, you could say a lot of things,” he said. “We didn’t play as well as we needed to and that’s disappointing.”

A quick start wasn’t enough for the Bulls. Senior running back Nay’Quan Wright scored USF’s second consecutive opening possession touchdown to give the Bulls a quick lead. 

After both teams traded scores, the Roadrunners racked up three consecutive touchdowns, bringing the halftime score to 28-14. 

Harris scampered into the endzone for a 40-yard touchdown to open up the second half, scoring his fifth of the game. 

Bulls coach Alex Golesh said the offense’s inability to sustain drives in the third quarter didn’t help the defensive bleeding. 

“You got to be able to go strain, to go finish,” he said “We just didn’t have that.” 

USF punted on three of its four drives during the third quarter.

The Roadrunners secured the victory with a two-yard rushing touchdown by junior running back Robert Henry, bringing the score to 42-14. 

This marked the fourth time this season the Bulls have allowed over 40 points in a single game.

Related: Defensive woes persist in Homecoming blowout loss to FAU

Golesh said games like these continue to be learning moments for a program in year one of a rebuild.

“More than anything else I care about is that we are sound on all three sides of the ball and our ability to go play harder than our opponent,” he said. 

As USF builds consistency and tries to move towards the top ranks in the American, Golesh said he is confident his team is tracking in the right direction. 

“We’re going to be back in the moment as a program and we’re going to be ready to take that moment,” he said. 

Despite the loss, it wasn’t all bad news for the Bulls.

Senior wide receiver Sean Atkins broke the single-season receiving yards record set by Marquez Valdes-Scantling in 2017.

Atkins finished the game with 10 catches for 92 yards, bringing his season total to 900.

USF will aim to clinch its sixth win in the regular-season finale against Charlotte next week. It marks the first-ever matchup between both programs. 

The 49ers (3-7, 2-4 AAC) lost to Memphis (8-2, 5-2 AAC) 44-38 last week in overtime. The Bulls could clinch a bowl matchup with a victory next Saturday. 

USF will take on Charlotte next Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 P.M. and will be broadcast on ESPNU and BullsUnlimited.