By Leo Haggerty


It was a quick turnaround for USF.  After the first American Athletic Conference victory during the HC Jeff Scott regime, the Green & Gold had to take to the road for a Thursday night contest with East Carolina.

Because of the away midweek tilt, there were a limited amount of accessibility for the media.  The in person interview time with Scott and specific players was moved up to Monday and I was unavailable to be there due to attending a funeral for a very good friend of mine.  RIP, Ron.

Also, I missed the post game Zoom media interview session.  That’s because I was flying to New Orleans to cover the Bucs game with the Saints Halloween evening.  Was scheduled to arrive at 9:40 ET which gave me plenty of time to get to my destination and set up for the Zoom call.

Unfortunately, there was a weather delay and didn’t land in The Big Easy until a little after 11 ET.  By then, the game was over and I missed my window of opportunity so the questions that I normally ask of the Bulls coaches and players are conspicuously absent from this column.  For that, I apologize.

So, let’s get to the game, shall we.  After leading at halftime, South Florida was outscored 23-0 in the second half and fell to East Carolina 29-14 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in a game entirely played during torrential rain.  The win advanced the Pirates to a 4-4 log and 2-2 in the AAC in 2021.  The loss dropped the Bulls to a 2-6 and 1-3 in conference play for the season.

After a scoreless first 15 minutes of play, ECU put points up on the board just 5 seconds into the second quarter.  RB Rahjai Harris (22 for 100 yards and 1 TD) rambled 13 yards finishing off a 14 play drive that went 83 yards in 6:45.  K Owen Daffer was unsuccessful with the PAT and that left the Pirates with a 6-0 advantage.

South Florida would answer that score with two of their own before halftime.  The first came the 8:43 mark.  RB Jaren Mangham (12 for 67 yards and 1 TD) totted the leather 24 yards to complete a 87 yard drive that took six plays and 2:45.  K Spencer Shrader converted the PAT and the Bulls now held a very precarious lead at 7-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, USF S Jayden Curry forced a fumble that was recovered by South Florida CB Timarcus Simpson.  That set the Green & Gold up with a short field opportunity and the offense capitalized at 8:12 of the second quarter.  QB Katravis Marsh (15 of 30 for 192 yards and 1 TD plus 3 INT) found WR Xavier Weaver (5 for 91 yards and 1 TD) with a 13 yard aerial that completed a 31 second drive that went 25 yards in three plays.  Shrader boot extra point and the Bulls moved out to a 14-6 advantage.

Sadly, the second 30 minute segment belonged completely to the Pirates.  ECU began by putting up two touchdowns starting at 10:30 of the third quarter.  After taking the second half kickoff, East Carolina marched 57 yards in 11 plays taking 4:30 with QB Holten Ahlers (21 of 35 for 220 yards and 1 TD) hooking up with WR Audie Omotosho (4 for 54 yards and 1 TD) for a 17 yard score.  This time, Daffer made the PAT and the USF lead was cut to14-13.

At 2:36 of the third period, the Pirates defense got into the scoring act.  CB Malik Fleming pick off a Marsh pass and took it 31 yards to the house.  The two point conversion attempt failed and that still put ECU back on top by a 19-14 count.

East  Carolina padded its lead at 10:26.  RB Keaton Mitchell (16 for 79 yards and 1 TD) weaved his way to pay dirt from 25 yards out capping a 10 play drive that traversed 80 yards in 4:34.  Daffer was perfect with the kick and Purple & Gold increased their lead to 26-14.

The Pirates put up the final score of the evening with 5:23 left in regulation.  Daffer split the uprights from 37 yards ending a six play drive that went 13 yards in 2:20 to make the final arithmetic 29-14.

Now, it’s back to the drawing board as USP prepares for Houston Saturday evening.  Hopefully, we’ll see you at the RayJay for the 7:30 kickoff.