Thursday was supposed to be a night of redemption for the USF Bulls. They were supposed to end a 5 game losing streak. They were supposed to win in a 2nd chance for the seniors to win their final game on their home field. They were supposed to soften the concerns of the coaching staff going into 2019. None of that happened. The Bulls fell behind early on in a sloppy 1st half, but just couldn’t stop the running game of Marshall. Randall St.Felix set a school record for receiving yards in a bowl game and broke the Gasparilla Bowl record for that same statistic in the process, but that wasn’t nearly enough as USF lost their 6th straight game, 38-20.
Most of the 1st quarter did not go the way of the Bulls. After trading a few punts, Marshall put together the 1st substantial drive of the game. Isaiah Green used his arm to drive the Thundering Herd down the field, but it was his legs that got them in the endzone for the 1st time in the game. The Bulls looked for a change of pace by putting in Blake Barnett at quarterback, but that didn’t fix things. Barnett was sacked on the 1st play and then an errant snap on the next one gave Marshall the ball at the 1-yard line. They ran it in on the very next play to get an early 2-score lead. The answer for USF at quarterback was then, Tyre McCants. Yes, that isn’t a typo. The wide receiver took over as a wildcat quarterback and was able to connect with Randall St.Felix on a long touchdown pass. The defense couldn’t back it up after that. Marshall drove right down the field and Brenden Knox capped the drive to bring the lead to 21-7.
Most of the 2nd quarter featured no offense after the skies opened and a monsoon rained down on Raymond James Stadium. Late in the quarter USF had to punt from their own endzone and gave Marshall great field position. The Thundering Herd took advantage and got their 4th rushing touchdown of the game from the 4th different player. The Bulls were able to answer and add a field goal in the closing seconds to make it an 18-point game heading to the half.
The Bulls were also able to put together a solid drive coming out of the locker room. It took 2 4th down conversions, but they were able to get into field goal range and cut the lead to 15. The Thundering Herd answered with a very similar drive. They stalled and ended up with a 28-yard field goal that brought the lead right back up to 18. USF answered that field goal in a big way. The Bulls drove right down the field and Blake Barnett found Randall St. Felix on a beauty of a 33-yard touchdown pass to make it a 31-20 game. USF’s defense just couldn’t stop the rushing attack of Marshall.The Thundering Herd ran it down the Bulls’ throat again and Keion Davis got his 2nd rushing touchdown of the game to put this one out of reach.
This marks the end of a very disappointing season for the Bulls. The team started out with so much promise at 7-0 to then lose their final 6 games. USF will welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to Raymond James Stadium to open the 2019 campaign.