Bulls Rally Late But Lose To Rutgers 22-20

In only their second meeting ever, USF's upset bid of 23rd ranked Rutgers came up a little short in the 22-20 loss. The (5-0, 1-0) Scarlet Knights held off a late rally by the Matt Grothe and the (3-2, 0-1) Bulls in the Big East Conference opener.

 Rutgers with the help of Ray Rice established their dominance running the ball on the opening drive of the game. The 12 play drive ended 79 yards later when Rice scored on a 3 yard rushing touchdown to give Rutgers an early 7-0 lead. On that drive, the Scarlet Knights gained six first downs, two of them due to defensive pe

On the Bulls' second drive from scrimmage, Grothe hit a wide open Colby Erskin for a 22 yard gain. After a dropped pass by Amp Hill on third down, Mike Benzer failed to put the Bulls on the scoreboard by missing a 40 yard field goal attempt. For his career, Benzer has made only one field goal in six attempts.

After another stalled drive by the Bulls during the second quarter, USF had another miscue on special teams. Justin Teachey, who kicks rugby style, was forced to punt without rolling out. This caused the punt to land out of bounds at the 26 yard line. A few plays later, Rutgers added a 32 yard field goal by Jeremy Iti after Patrick ST. Louis made a gigantic sack on third and two.

The Bulls responded with a 35 yard pass from Matt Grothe to a jumping Amarri Jackson followed by a 35 yard completion to Taurus Johnson, who was hit perfectly in stride. Two plays later, Grothe rushed up the middle for a one yard touchdown to cut the lead to 10-7. On Rutgers next possession, Trae Williams outran the receiver before diving and making an over the shoulder interception, his fifth of the season. A minute later, Grothe scampered free behind some great blocking for a 22 yard touchdown run which gave the Bulls their first lead of the day.

 The second half for the Bulls was much tougher offensively. Rutgers made some nice adjustments and started putting more pressure on Grothe. The result was almost immediate as Grothe was intercepted by Courtney Brown as he was being smashed by the defensive end. This turnover would lead to a 40 yard field goal by Jeremy Ito after some excellent running by Ray Rice. For the game Rice rushed the ball 35 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns. This was the seventh consecutive game that Rice has topped the 100 yard mark which ties a school record from 1973.

USF failed to respond early on after Grothe was intercepted again due to a bad pass thrown because of heavy pressure. For the game, Grothe completed 16 of 26 for 241 yards including one touchdown and two interceptions. He also led the Bulls in rushing for the fourth game in a row with 14 rushes for 61 yards and two touchdowns. 

The second Bulls' turnover led to another Rutgers' score. This one was a 7 yard touchdown run by Ray Rice but the two point attempt that followed came up short. They followed that up with a 53 yard field goal by Jeremy Ito with seven minutes remaining in the game and the score 22-14. 

The first comeback shot for the Bulls ended after Grothe fumbled while rushing up the middle after a six yard gain. The result was a 42 yard field goal attempt By Ito who was 3-3 for the game prior to this. But the Bulls' defense came up huge when Stephen Nicholas blocked the field goal to give USF another chance. After a 14 yard completion to Ean Randolph, the Bulls found themselves on the 45 yard line with under a minute remaining. 

On the following play, Grothe completed an 11 yard pass to Marcus Edwards. Rutgers was also called for roughing the passer and suddenly the Bulls were at the 19 yard line with 40 seconds left. A few plays later, Grothe found Ean Randolph in the middle of the end zone for a 16 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 22-20. On the two-point conversion, Grothe hit an open Amp Hill who dropped the ball after pressured by the defender. 

 The last hope for the Bulls was an onside kick with 12 seconds left. The Bulls recovered the kick, but Mike Jenkins jumped one second too early before catching the onside kick after it bounced nine yards in the air, and after a review, the referees ruled he caught the ball before it went the required 10 yards,  and just like that the ballgame was over.  


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