(via USF Communications) - Sophomore quarterback Jordan McCloud turned in the type of passing performance USF has been looking for, but the Bulls couldn’t put things together in all three phases in a 44-24 homecoming loss to ECU on Saturday night in Raymond James Stadium.
Trying to solidify his status as the starter, McCloud set career highs with 26 completions for 298 yards on the night for USF (1-3, 0-2 in AAC). The Tampa native completed 74 of percent of his 35 attempts and found a productive target often in Latrell Williams, who set career bests with eight receptions for 93 yards to lead all receivers.
Running back Johnny Ford (Miami) added to his stellar sophomore season with two rushing touchdowns, including an 8-yard score that put the Bulls ahead in the first quarter. Ford’s second touchdown with 4:59 left in the first half helped get USF within 10 of ECU (1-2, 1-1 in AAC), which controlled the momentum the rest of the game.
McCloud got into his passing groove right away and Ford kept up his playmaking ways in an explosive first half that saw the Bulls cut their deficit to 31-17 right before the break.
ECU opened the game with a field goal and USF responded with its fastest scoring drive of the season. Ford’s 8-yard touchdown run capped off a six-play, 65-yard sequence that took just 1:37 off the clock. Mitchell Brinkman (Council Bluffs, Iowa) put the Bulls in prime scoring position with a 37-yard reception one play prior to Ford’s first trip to the end zone.
Fancy footwork by Ford helped cut ECU’s lead to 24-14. The speedster bounced it outside and tiptoed along the sideline on a 7-yard touchdown run with 4:59 remaining in the half. Freshman Omarion Dollison (Columbia, S.C.) sparked the five-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a career long 52-yard reception on the opening snap of a series that took only 1 minute, 55 seconds.
Sharp McCloud completed 19 of 26 passes for 243 yards in the first half and had four 20-plus yard throws. His fourth was a 31-yard connection with Williams on the same drive the junior receiver hauled in a 14-yard catch on third-and-12 at the ECU 29. Williams had six receptions for 80 yards before the break and his last clutch play of the half helped set up a 31-yard field goal by Jared Sackett (Fort Worth, Texas) with 32 seconds left.
ECU scored 13 straight points in the second half before quarterback Noah Johnson (Tampa) responded for USF with a 15-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds remaining in the game.
Photo Courtesy Of Getty Images