Tampa Bay Sports Day

RECAP: USF’s Two-Game Win Streak Snapped at Navy

ANNAPOLIS, Md.  – USF collected three takeaways on the day but couldn’t get its offense going as Navy’s potent rushing attack led the Midshipmen to a 35-3 victory in Annapolis Saturday, which snapped the Bulls’ two-game winning streak.

Navy (5-1, 3-1 in AAC) rushed 59 times for 434 yards in its third straight win. Navy QB Malcolm Perry had a game-high 188 rushing yards and two touchdowns while Navy’s only completed pass was a 23-yard touchdown on a trick play.

“If you look at the first half, we gave up three big plays. The quarterback, we allowed him to just run up and down the field on us. Then, we couldn’t move the ball on offense. When that happens to you, this is the result that you get,” said Head coach Charlie Strong.

USF (3-4, 1-2 in AAC) headed into the week ranking fourth nationally in turnovers gained and increased its season takeaway total to 18. Junior cornerback KJ Sails and sophomore safety Nick Roberts intercepted passes in the second quarter. Senior defensive end Greg Reaves  recovered a fumble on the first drive of the second half. But the Bulls could only convert those into three points.

Reaves finished with a season-high 12 tackles and senior linebacker Patrick Macon  had a game-high 13 stops in USF’s first game at Navy since 2015. Despite turning the ball over twice in the first half, the Midshipmen used 220 rushing yards to build a 21-3 halftime lead in the first meeting between the programs since a 52-45 Bulls home victory in 2016.

Perry’s 67-yard touchdown run started the scoring with 3:56 to go in the first quarter. Jamale Carothers’ 58-yard run and OJ Davis’ 23-yard touchdown catch on an option pass helped extend the Navy advantage to 21-0 in the second quarter before a takeaway led to points for USF.

Sails hauled in his second interception of the season, but had a pick-6 taken off the board due to a penalty called on a block on the return. Four plays later, freshman Spencer Shrader  made his second field goal of the season from 33 yards out with 2:43 remaining in the half.

USF got the ball back less than two minutes later when Roberts intercepted a pass at the Bulls’ 33. The Bulls got to the Navy 48 but the drive ended with an interception of redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan McCloud at the 22. Battling through injuries sustained in previous games. McCloud ompleted 11 of 23 passes for 50 yards and rushed for 26 yards in his fifth straight start.

“He’s trying to battle through it, but he’s not healthy and we have to get him healthy. Once we can get him healthy, then he’s gonna be able to execute and do the things that we need him to do.,” added Strong about McCloud.

“He’s trying to battle through it, but he’s not healthy and we have to get him healthy. Once we can get him healthy, then he’s gonna be able to execute and do the things that we need him to do.,” added Strong about McCloud.Reaves increased USF’s takeaway total to three with a fumble recovery on the opening drive of the third quarter at the Bulls’ 39-yard line. Jordan Cronkrite’s 25-yard run got USF into Midshipmen territory before McCloud’s potential first-down pass on fourth-and-5 from the Navy 27 was dropped.

After USF’s defense kept Navy scoreless in the third quarter, Perry found the end zone again on a 21-yard run with 13:03 to play. Perry entered the weekend tied for third nationally in TD runs and now has 14 this season.

USF trailed, 35-3, with 6:50 remaining when sophomore QB Kirk Rygol  replaced McCloud. Rygol’s first pass to sophomore Bryce Miller went for a 28-yard gain and he later found junior Jacob Mathis on a 24-yard connection. Rygol completed 3 of 5 passes for 62 yards and got the Bulls to the Navy 7 on his first drive that ended with a missed field goal.

Rygol finished 4-for-7 for 64 yards while USF registered 150 of its 264 total yards on the ground. Cronkrite led the way with 17 carries for 76 yards, falling short in his attempt at a third straight 100-yard rushing performance.

USF wraps up a two-game road trip at East Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 26. Kickoff is set for 3:45 p.m.

GAME NOTES: Navy gained 434 of its 457 total yards on the ground…..USF finished with eight penalties for 65 yards, including one that wiped out a pick-6 by KJ Sails…..USF managed just three points off three takeaways.,,,,USF now has 18 takeaways this season after getting interceptions from KJ Sails and Nick Roberts along with a fumble recovery by Greg Reaves. The Bulls headed into the week ranking fourth in turnovers gained…USF has recovered 11 fumbles this season after going into the week ranking fourth nationally in the category….Saturday marked the third meeting between the programs and USF’s first trip to Navy since 2015. Navy took a 2-1 series lead in its first game against the Bulls since 2016.