(Tampa, FL) Senior Jordan Cronkrite rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 7:37 remaining to lead USF to a 27-23 homecoming victory over BYU Saturday before an announced Raymond James Stadium crowd of 35,375.
Clinging to a four-point lead, USF (3-3, 1-1 in AAC) came up with consecutive fourth-down stops deep in its own territory to defeat BYU (2-4) in the first-ever meeting between the programs. The Cougars’ final two drives ended at the USF 5 and 20, the last ending after Devin Studstill batted down a pass in the end zone.
USF generated 243 of its 315 total yards on the ground and Cronkrite led the rushing attack with 158 yards on 26 carries in his second-best performance as a Bull. The senior from Miami registered both his rushing touchdowns and racked up 123 yards in the second half.
On a tough day through the air, senior tight end Mitchell Wilcox led the way with two catches for 52 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown reception that put USF on the scoreboard in the second quarter after BYU jumped out to a 13-0 lead.
The wild, first game between the programs started with BYU building a 16-7 halftime lead after the Bulls’ defense forced field goals in the red zone on the Cougars’ final two scoring drives.
BYU took an early 3-0 lead, but the USF defense did lots of damage in the opening quarter with 6 tackles for loss and four sacks.
After BYU extended its lead to 13-0, USF’s offense put together an eight-play, 86-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 39-yard touchdown reception by Wilcox with 6:01 remaining in the half.
Cronkrite punched in his first touchdown of the season from 1 yard out to help drop USF’s deficit to 16-14 on the first drive of the second half that covered 68 yards on 14 plays.
BYU responded with quarterback Jaren Hall’s 29-yard touchdown run on the next drive, but the Bulls stayed within striking distance recovering a fumble on a punt attempt at the BYU 23 and USF trailed, 23-21, after a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jordan McCloud with 14:57 remaining.
BYU missed a field goal after McCloud’s score and the Bulls turned the opportunity into a 27-23 advantage with Cronkrite’s 3-yard touchdown run with 7:37 to go. Cronkrite secured his second straight 100-yard rushing game on the nine-play, 78-yard drive that was powered by his 41-yard run down to the BYU 15.
BYU marched all the way down to the USF 8 on the next drive before the Bulls came up with a stop on fourth-and-7 from the 10. USF took over with 1:36 to play and, following three running plays, Schneider’s 61-yard punt moved the Cougars back to their own 26 with 1:09 remaining.
BYU got as far as the USF 12 on the final drive of the game that featured Grier’s sack on the crucial third-and-10 play before Studstill’s game-sealing pass breakup.
“That’s a great win for us”, Bulls Head Coach Charlie Strong said, “What we were able to do on defense was just hold them to field goals in the first half and not let the game get away from us”.
USF continues conference play at Navy on Saturday, Oct. 19. Kickoff in Annapolis, Md., is set for 3:30 p.m. and game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
ga('create', 'UA-96384574-1', 'auto');