In what was likely their most balanced game of the season, the USF Bulls defeated the ECU Pirates 45-20 on Saturday afternoon up in Greenville, North Carolina.
This one didn't start off the way the Bulls would have liked.
On the opening kickoff, Tyler Snead took it 100 yards for the score and the Pirates led 7-0 just 15 seconds into the game.
To USF's credit, they were not fazed by the ECU touchdown and answered right back.
Jordan McCloud marched the Bulls offense 75 yards down the field in 10 plays and Jordan Cronkrite punched it in from five yards out to even the score at 7-7.
The Pirates looked to be cooking up a response of their own, but a pair of USF's top defenders hooked up for a takeaway.
On 2nd and 8 from the Bulls 14, ECU running back Demetrius Rauney took the handoff and looked to be close to a first down, but USF linebacker Patrick Macon came in and stripped the ball away. Safety Devon Studstill swooped in and jumped on top of the ball for a very important turnover.
The Bulls made that takeaway count as they went 49 yards on 5 plays, and the drive culminated with a 21 yard TD strike from McCloud to TE Jacob Mathis to make it 14-7.
The USF lead was pushed to 21-7 when McCloud fired a perfect throw to Randall St. Felix from 18 yards out to silence an ECU crowd who was in the middle of singing "Living On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi.
But wait..... the Bulls offense wasn't done.
Backup QB Jah'Quez Evans, who rushed for 99 yards on the day, left the Pirates defense in the dust with a 34 yard touchdown run to make it 28-7 USF.
ECU again looked to answer, but the Bulls came away with yet another turnover.
This time it was Greg Reaves, picking up the first interception of his career, and returning 48 yards past midfield.
On the ensuing drive, Cronkrite capped it off with his second TD of the day, this one from 10 yards out, to put the Bulls ahead 35-7.
Unfortunately on that drive, McCloud was tackled low and had to be helped to the locker room with what looked to be a right ankle injury.
McCloud went 9 for 12 for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air and added 4 rushes for 49 yards as well.
Evans also left the game due to injury so Kirk Rygol took over and did a solid job the rest of the way completing 6 of 12 passes for 74 yards, including a 24 yard TD pass to Terrence Horne early in the 4th quarter.
What's Next For The Bulls : The Bulls are off next week but return home to Raymond James Stadium on Thursday November 7th to host the Temple Owls. Kickoff is slated for 8:00pm with the first hour of the pregame show at 6:00pm on Bulls Unlimited, followed by the second hour of the pregame show at 7:00pm on 95.3WDAE and AM620, your Home of USF Football!!