It wasn’t pretty, and it was against another bad team, but USF pulled off a dramatic 14 point comeback Friday night in Tulsa for a thrilling 25-24 win. The Bulls had been living dangerously in their previous three games against bad opponents pulling out wins over Illinois, East Carolina and UMass in the second half of them all. Friday night it looked like they were done.
The Golden Hurricane, just 1 – 4 on the season, put together four complete quarters of solid football and two long second-half scoring drives to set the stage for the possible huge upset of the Bulls.
However, even though the Bulls struggled for much of the night to get any sustained offense or drive rolling, they eventually would get on track.
Trailing 10-3 at the half, the Bulls got on the board when their top weapon all season, running back Jordan Cronkrite ripped off a 66 yard touchdown run to even the game up at 10. That put Conkrite over a hundred yards (151) rushing for the fourth consecutive game.
However, there was no quit in Tulsa. They put together their key third quarter scoring drives and running back Shamari Brooks capped off both with 10 yard touchdown runs each time. The second Drive was an 88 yarder and it put the Golden Hurricane up 24 – 10.
Tulsa was playing with confidence that it had not shown for much of the year with four losses in five games and that included 16 turnovers, as well.
But, the Bulls finally got their offense sustained midway through the fourth quarter, when quarterback Blake Barnett led a 14 play, 82 yard drive that he capped off with a 1-yard scramble run for the touchdown. Tulsa blocked the extra point to maintain a 24 – 16 advantage.
USF was able to force a punt and then quickly marched 80 yards in 10 plays and Barnett again scrambled in from 12 yards out to cut the lead to two at 24 – 22. With only 2:09 remaining the Bulls decided to try to tie the game with a two-point conversion.
Tulsa’s defense rose to the occasion and stuffed a scrambling Barnett on the two-point play.
Still, USF just kept making plays and got three stoops of Tulsa, used two timeouts remaining and got the ball back.
That’s when the real dramatics took over.
First, USF was aided a roughing the passer personal foul with under :40 to play that gave them a first down in Tulsa territory. Then Barnett fired a bullet downfield to receiver Tyre McCants for 32 yards down to the Hurricane five yard line with :08 left.
Barnett did most of his statistical damage in the fourth quarter finishing with 237 yards passing and 24 more rushing with the two TDs.
The Bulls got to the line and calmly spiked the ball with :05 left.
Kicker Coby Weiss booted the 22 yard field goal for the win at 25-24.
The “Houdini” escape for the Bulls puts them at 6-0 for the second consecutive year and only the third time since the program became FBS in 2001.
Tulsa was bidding to beat a Top 25 team for the first time in eight years. Alas, they came up a point short and are now 0 for 15 against ranked teams since 2010.
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