Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF: Nation-Leading Win Streak Snapped at Home Against Houston

TAMPA – Senior Emilio Nadelman’s kick put USF ahead by three with 1:46 remaining, but the Bulls couldn’t hold off Houston in the closing seconds in a 28-24 loss Saturday night in Raymond James Stadium.

USF (7-1, 4-1) fell for the first time since Oct. 21, 2016 and saw its nation-leading winning streak come to an end at 12 games.

Senior Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished with a career-high 10 catches for 186 yards on the night, which marked the second-most receiving yardage in USF history behind only Andre Davis’ 191 yards at Nevada in 2012.

Quinton Flowers  posted season highs with 23 completions for 325 yards on a career-high 38 attempts. The senior dual-threat QB also rushed for two touchdowns before USF’s nation-leading streak of 30-plus point games ended at 24.

Defensive tackle Deadrin Senat set career highs with a team-high 12 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Senat had a sack on the final drive of the game before Houston (5-3, 3-2) found a way to pull ahead with 11 seconds remaining.

Senior Deatrick Nichols finished with a career-high 10 tackles and helped USF’s defense take a shutout into the second half. Sophomore Greg Reaves  also set career highs with nine tackles and 2.5 of USF’s 12.0 tackles for loss on the night.

USF’s defense kept things scoreless in the first quarter by limiting Houston to 28 total yards on 16 plays. The Bulls defense set up the game’s first score in the second quarter thanks to a tackle for loss by Josh Black on fourth-and-1 attempt by the Cougars at the Houston 37.

On fourth-and-goal on the Bulls’ ensuing drive, D’Ernest Johnson  followed his blockers into the end zone on a 2-yard run to give USF the lead with 9:34 remaining in the half.

Darius Tice converted USF’s other fourth-down attempt on the drive with an 18-yard run down the middle and finished with a team-high 92 rushing yards.

USF took a 7-0 lead into halftime thanks to holding Houston to 82 offensive yards while the Cougars went 1-for-8 on third down in the opening 30 minutes.

Devin Abraham recovered a fumble forced by Khalid McGee in the second quarter.

Houston tied the game up on the first drive of the second half, going 75 yards to score, but the Bulls answered right back on the ensuing drive with a 74-yard march of its own.

Flowers strolled into the end zone from 3 yards out with 8:55 left in the third quarter one play after Tice converted on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 8.

Tied for the first time this season heading into the fourth quarter, USF jumped back ahead with Flowers’ 2-yard touchdown run with 10:27 to play. Flowers set up his 39th-career scoring run with a 38-yard pass to Valdes-Scantling on the previous play.

Tied again at 21-21 with 6:20 remaining, USF took 4:34 off the clock with a 10-play drive that covered 64 yards and was capped with a 30-yard field goal in the rain by Nadelman.

Houston’s Brandon McDowell returned the Bulls’ kickoff 50 yards to set the Cougars up on the USF 49 with 1:46 to play.

After a pair of Bulls’ tackles for loss, Houston faced a fourth-and-24 from the Houston 37. D’Eriq King’s pass found its way between three Bulls’ defenders into the arms of Courtney Lark for a first down at the USF 33.

Five plays later, King scrambled, broke right and darted for a 20-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds on the clock.

USF heads back on the road for a conference clash at UConn on Saturday, Nov. 4. The kickoff time has yet to be announced. USF returns to Raymond James Stadium to host Tulsa on Thursday, Nov. 16. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised nationally on ESPN.