Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF Defense Sets Takeaway Records in 55-16 Rout of SC State

TAMPA – Quarterback Jordan McCloud accounted for five touchdowns in his first career start while the USF defense set program records with eight takeaways and five fumble recoveries in a 55-16 rout of South Carolina State at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night.

Redshirt freshman McCloud completed 16 of 27 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. The Tampa native also rushed for two scores and 56 yards (4.7 ypc) in the second-best scoring debut by a USF freshman.

USF (1-2) scored 42 points off takeaways after forcing five turnovers in its 31-point second half. Five different Bulls recovered fumbles to set the record – seniors Greg Reaves, Kirk Livingstone and Devin Studstill along with juniors KJ Sails and Tyrik Jones.

Sophomore safety Nick Roberts had a 62-yard interception return and finished with five tackles.

Sophomore Johnny Ford, who moved from running back to receiver in the spring, recorded his first 100-yard receiving game with 100 yards on just four catches, including a 42-yard touchdown to start USF’s scoring and a career long 52-yarder in the fourth quarter. Ford also had a 32-yard touchdown run and gained 37 yards on three carries (12.3 ypc).

Senior Mitchell Wilcox  set USF’s new tight end career touchdown receptions record (8) with scoring catches of 20 and 10 yards during USF’s 459-yard performance.

In the first half, McCloud threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another while the USF defense totaled three takeaways and six tackles for loss (9.0 total on the night) as the Bulls built a 24-3 advantage.

After a field goal by SC State (2-1) started the scoring, Ford’s 42-yard touchdown reception boosted the Bulls into the lead with 5:05 remaining in the opening quarter. Ford has touchdown receptions in back-to-back games, both on passes from McCloud.

McCloud’s career long 31-yard run down to the SC State 4 paved the way for Coby Weiss’ 20-yard field goal that extended the lead to 10-3 with 14:16 to play in the first half.

Livingstone scooped up a fumble on sophomore cornerback Bentlee Sanders’ first career sack before another USF score. Wilcox set the program’s new tight end career touchdown receptions record he’d later extend with a 20-yard catch that helped the Bulls up their lead to 17-3 with 9:22 to go before halftime.

USF snuck in one more score before the break on McCloud’s first career rushing touchdown from 9 yards out with 32 seconds remaining. The 11-play, 80-yard drive followed sophomore middle linebacker Andrew Mims’ first career forced fumble that was recovered by Studstill. Mims led the Bulls with a career-high six tackles (five solo).

Roberts had a 62-yard interception on the opening drive of the second half and USF’s lead grew to 31-3 after Ford’s 32-yard touchdown run on the very next play.

Sails 34-yard punt return down to the SC State 24 set the stage for freshman Spencer Shrader’s first career field goal, a 34-yarder that extended the advantage to 34-9 with 3:01 to play in the third quarter.

Less than a minute later, Wilcox hauled in his second touchdown catch of the night from 10 yards out after Sails recovered USF’s fourth fumble of the game that was caused by Reaves. USF had three takeaways in the third quarter, thanks to the first career interception by sophomore defensive back Vincent Davis.

Four plays after Davis’ pick, McCloud marched into the end zone from 3 yards out and USF had a 48-9 lead. Ford sparked the 49-second scoring drive with a career long 52-yard reception the play before McCloud’s fifth touchdown accounted for.

Jones recovered USF’s record fifth fumble and returned it 20 yards. Three plays later, senior quarterback Blake Barnett capped off the scoring with a 4-yard pass to redshirt freshman Terrence Horne with 6:15 to play.

Following a bye week, USF opens conference play with home game against SMU on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Raymond James Stadium