TAMPA, SEPT. 17, 2022– The USF football (1-2) team gave No. 18 Florida (2-1) all in wanted in a wild game the Gators held on to win, 31-28, before 88,496 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville on a beautiful Saturday night.
The third-largest crowd USF has ever played in front of nearly witnessed one of the biggest wins in program history as head coach Jeff Scott’s Bulls ran for 286 yards, totaled 402 yards of offense and kept Gator quarterback Anthony Richardson in check in a game that wasn’t decided until a missed 49-yard field goal attempt with 23 seconds to play.
The Bulls outscored the Gators 15-7 in the second half, outgained the Gators 402-329 and held a 28-24 lead with 11:14 to play, but a couple miscues and a late Florida touchdown drive prevented the upset.
Sophomore running back Brian Battie ran for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown and junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon added 102 and a touchdown on the ground as USF’s offensive line helped the Bulls to the most rushing yards Florida has given up this season, including 216 in the first half after the Gators had given up a total of 22 first half rushing yards against their first two opponents.
Linebacker Dwayne Boyles and cornerback Aamaris Brown got big interceptions for a USF defense that forced the Gators into two turnovers and two three-and-outs in their first four possessions of the second half.
Leading 24-13 at the half, Florida took the opening kickoff of the second half and moved to midfield before Boyles picked Richardson off and returned it 37 yards to the UF18. The Bulls moved the ball on three runs, scoring on a 6-yard Bohanon dart right up the middle. USF went for two on the point after and converted on a trick play with Sean Atkins hitting Xavier Weaver in the back of the endzone to cut the UF lead to 24-21.
The USF defense forced a three-and-out on UF’s next possession and the first punt of the game ensued. The Bulls had to punt it back on their possession, but the defense rose to the occasion again forcing another Gator three-and-out and getting the ball back on USF’s 49 after a 20-yard return by Weaver.
The Bulls converted their second crucial 4th and 1 of the game, this time with Bohanon making a two-yard carry, and then drove to the UF1 where Michel Dukes finished an 11-play, 51-yard drive with a 1-yard dive to the right pylon to give the Bulls a 28-24 lead with 11:14 to play.
Florida took the kickoff and drove 70 yards to the USF5 before Brown stepped in front of a Richardson pass to the corner and picked it off. The touchback gave the Bulls the ball on their own 20 with 7:50 to play.
On a third-and-11, Bohanon was pressured and forced a late pass that was intercepted by Tre’Vez Johnson at the USF 28. The Gators capitalized with Travis Etienne running the ball four times and scoring on a three-yard plunge for a 31-28 lead with 5:00 to play.
The Bulls weren’t done as Bohanon and Battie moved the ball on the ground and Bohanon hit Weaver for a 7-yard gain. USF drove to the UF19 and had 2nd-and-6 when the shotgun snap went array and the Bulls fell on it at the UF33. Facing 4th-and-18, the Bulls sent Spencer Shrader out to attempt a 49-yard tying field goal with 23 seconds to play, but the kick went wide right and the Gators celebrated.
USF’s offensive line looked strong from the start as the Bulls posted 216 yards rushing in the first half and gave Bohanon time in the pocket. But two costly turnovers and some untimely penalties on USF helped Florida take a 24-13 lead to the locker room after a highly entertaining first half that saw USF lead in offensive yardage, 272-204. USF scored on three of its five drives and had a fumble and pick-six on the other two, while Florida scored on all three of its full possessions, taking a knee to end the half on its last.
The Bulls took the opening kickoff and moved the ball to the UF41 before Weaver fumbled on a wide receiver screen. With The Swamp crowd roaring for early points, the Bulls defense stiffened and forced a 32-yard Gators’ field goal.
The Bulls offense returned to the field and immediately responded, getting a big 21-yard gain on a draw to Battie on a 3rd-and-18, a 23-yard rumble from Jaren Mangham, and another 12-yard touchdown run from Battie to take the lead. The Bulls went 80 yards in 12 plays and led 7-3 with 1:21 to play in the first quarter.
After the first quarter break, Florida handed off to Montrell Johnson Jr. on the first play of the second quarter and he ripped through the USF line for a 62-yard touchdown that gave Florida a 10-7 lead.
USF again responded, this time converting a big 4th-and-1 at its own 34 that extended a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive. With the crowd roaring for the stop, Bohanon crept under center and then tossed a misdirection pitch to Battie who flew out of the backfield for a 51-yard gain up the sideline. The Bulls advanced the ball to the UF4 before the drive stalled and Shrader converted a 21-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.
Florida took the kickoff and methodically worked down the field for a 12-play, 88-yard touchdown drive that benefitted from a borderline pass interference call on Brown and a personal foul called on Matthew Hill after the USF defense had held the Gators well short on a 3rd-and-15 from the USF 18. One play later, Nay’Quan Wright scored on a 7-yard touchdown run for a 17-10 UF lead.
The Bulls took over after the kickoff and gained a first down, but on 1st and 10 from their own 35, Bohanon tried to fit a pass in to Holden Willis. Florida’s Jalen Kimber muscled his way in front of Willis, took the ball and raced to the endzone for a pick-six that gave the Gators a 24-10 lead.
Unfazed, the Bulls drove 43 yards in 12 plays and closed the half on a 49-yard field goal from Shrader to go to the locker room trailing 13-24.
• The USF offense finished with 286 rushing yards on the game, a season high and the most since posting a program-record 421 at Temple last year. It was the most rushing yards UF has given up on the 2022 season, surpassing the 230 posted by No. 7 Utah.
• The USF defense held Florida to 329 yards. They posted 451 vs. No. 7 Utah and 279 vs. No. 20 Kentucky. UF quarterback Anthony Richardson was held to 24 yards rushing and 112 passing.
• RB Brian Battie posted his second straight 100-yard rushing game and the fourth of his career as he carried the ball a career-high 17 times for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown, including a 51-yard gain on a big 4th and 1.
• QB Gerry Bohanon rushed for 102 yards on a career-high 15 carries. He recorded his first USF touchdown (passing or rushing) on a 6-yard carry in the third quarter.
• LB Dwayne Boyles posted his fourth career interception.
“It’s a heartbreaker because of how well we played the majority of the game. It’s the first time I’ve really seen our team play at the level I think we’re capable of.”
“There’s nobody happy in that locker room for keeping it close.”
“Hopefully, this will be one of those stepping-stone games for us.”
- Head Coach Jeff Scott
USF will hit the road for their second straight away game when they take on Louisville next Saturday in a noon kickoff on the ACC Network.
ABOUT USF FOOTBALL The USF football program first took the field in 1997 and celebrated its 25th season in 2021 while breaking ground on a $22 million Indoor Performance Facility. The Bulls have posted 15 winning seasons, earned 16 All-America selections, including 2021 consensus All-American Brian Battie, and 31 first-team all-conference selections. USF has had 30 players selected in the NFL Draft and has made 10 bowl games appearances (going 6-4 in those games), posting a program-record six straight appearances from 2005-2010 and most recently making four straight bowl appearances from 2015-18. The Bulls posted back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2016 and 2017, logging a program-record 11-2 mark in 2016 while finishing both seasons ranked in the Top 25. USF spent a program-record 20 straight weeks ranked in the Top 25 during the 2016 and 2017 seasons and reached as high as No. 2 in the national rankings during the 2007 season.
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– #GoBulls –
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