The Clock Struck Midnight on the Bulls Cinderella Season

By on December 23, 2015

 

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Nacarius Fant (1) gets paydirt before South Florida Bulls linebacker Nigel Harris (57) and cornerback Ronnie Hoggins (19) can make the stop. (photo Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports)

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Nacarius Fant (1) gets paydirt before South Florida Bulls linebacker Nigel Harris (57) and cornerback Ronnie Hoggins (19) can make the stop. (photo Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports)

A crowd of 21,712, mostly green and gold fans, watched as the South Florida Bulls took on Conference USA champion Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. There was a lot of talk about this matchup, mostly focusing on Willie Taggart taking on his old team, but when the clock struck zero, it was the inability of the BullShark defense to stop Brandon Doughty and the Hilltoppers offense.

The Bulls found themselves in a bowl game for the first time in five years. And it looked like, at least for the first half, that they were regular participants.

The Bulls jumped out early in the first half, taking a quick 14-0 lead behind the 12 and 53 yard runs of Quinton Flowers and Rodney Adams. The Hilltoppers would close out the first half scoring 10 unanswered points as the Bulls went into halftime leading 14-10.

Western Kentucky would carry the momentum into the third quarter, scoring 28 points en route to a 38-21 heading into the fourth quarter. USFs only points of the third quarter came on a D’Ernest Johnson 34-yard halfback pass to Tyre McCants.

The Bulls offense would find its rhythm again in the fourth quarter.

Trailing by 17 points, Flowers found Rodney Adams for a 53-yard touchdown catch. The Bulls offense would continue to roll on the next series as Flowers would cap a 6 play 75 yard drive with an 8-yard TD run, his second rushing touchdown of the game, and putting the Bulls within three points of the lead 38-35. Flowers would finish the game rushing for 109 yards, setting a new USF single season rushing record of 991 yards.

Trailing 38-35, momentum continued to be on the side of the Bulls as defensive lineman Eric Lee intercepted Hilltopper quarterback Brandon Doughty and gave the ball back to the Bulls. With a chance to take the lead, the Bulls offense was unable to capitalize as the drive stalled on the Western Kentucky 36 yard line. Emilio Nadelman failed to connect on a 54 yard field goal attempt.

The Hilltoppers put the game away on the next series, as running back Anthony Wales 42 yard touchdown run extended the Hilltoppers lead to 10 points, 45-35. The Hilltoppers (12-2) finished the game with 612 total yards as quarterback Brandon Doughty threw for 461 yards.

The Bulls (8-5) had 597 yards of total offense finishing the season with a school record 5,741 total yards. Marlon Mack had 108 yards rushing, his school record ninth 100 yard rushing game and finishing the season with a single season school record 1,381 rushing yards. Quarterback Quinton Flowers threw for 273 yards finishing the season with 2,296 passing yards.

Despite the loss, the program is headed in the right direction as stated by Taggart in his postgame press conference, “The future is bright for USF football.”

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