By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
CINCINNATI – Matt Floyd was efficient in his first-career start for USF, but the Bulls’ offense heated up too late in a 27-10 loss to Cincinnati on a cold Friday night at Nippert Stadium.
Floyd completed 21 of his 39 pass attempts for 176 yards and USF scored its lone touchdown on a 5-yard run by Demetris Murray with 7:19 remaining. Murray led the Bulls in rushing with 68 yards on 19 carries.
The USF defense hung tough with Cincinnati for a good portion of the game before the Bearcats pulled away in the second half. George Winn rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Brendon Kay added passing and rushing TDs as Cincinnati (8-3, 4-2) improved to 4-1 at home against USF in the series’ history.
Friday’s first half featured two offenses struggling to find a groove with the exception of two Cincinnati drives.
Cincinnati took advantage of a USF mistake to grab a 7-0 lead with 6:50 to go in the first quarter. Bearcats punter Pat O’Donnell’s 65-yarder pinned the Bulls at their own 5 and Murray’s fumble four plays later gave Cincinnati the ball at the USF 19. Kay ran 18 yards to the end zone for his second score on the ground this season.
Aside from the short score, neither offense could get much going in the first quarter. USF had an 81-62 edge in yards and both teams combined for five punts.
A 70-yard punt by Justin Brockhaus-Kann pinned the Bearcats deep in their own territory in the second quarter, but Cincinnati orchestrated an 81-yard drive to punch in its second score. Kay hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 3-yard touchdown with 2:58 to play in the half before Tony Miliano missed the extra point.
USF went into the half with 95 yards of total offense and Murray led the way with 48 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
The Bulls didn’t get into the end zone in the third quarter, but they chipped away at the Bearcats’ lead thanks to a 25-yard field goal by Maikon Bonani with 8:01 remaining in the period. Floyd was 5-for-5 on the 65-yard drive with an 18-yard pass to Murray that got USF into field goal range.
That was as close as USF would get to Cincinnati, which scored the lone touchdown of the third quarter on a 3-yard run by Winn with 3:06 to go in the period. The short run came one play after Kay threw a 48-yard pass to Kenbrell Thompkins for the longest gain of the night.
USF had a shot at a second field goal in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but Bonani’s 51-yard attempt hit the right upright. The Bearcats put any chances of a Bulls comeback to rest on the ensuing drive when Winn rushed for a 4-yard touchdown with 12:12 to play. Winn’s TD run of the game also got him to the 100-yard mark.
USF found the end zone with 7:19 remaining in the game when Murray ran for a 5-yard score. Floyd went 4-for-6 through the air on the 73-yard drive.
The Bulls (3-8, 1-5) look to end their 2012 season on a positive note at Raymond James Stadium when they host Pittsburgh on Saturday, Dec. 1. A game time has yet to be determined.
- Justin Brockhaus-Kann set a new career high with a 70-yard punt in the second quarter. It marked the second-longest punt in USF history behind Devin Sanderson’s 72-yarder in 2002 at Arkansas.
- USF’s lone win at Cincinnati came in 2010 when the Bulls beat the Bearcats, 38-30.The game time temperature at kickoff was 38 degrees.