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The Ballad of Willie Taggart

This Saturday, Willie Taggart will become the first person to ever face USF as both a player and a head coach. He was the Western Kentucky quarterback in the Bulls' first two seasons of football, and he had one especially painful game against them. In fact... I feel a song coming on...


They met in 1998 one fine October night
The Bulls were ranked but so were they, it would be quite a fight
It started good for USF, but the Hilltoppers won
Because that Willie Taggart, he tore the Bulls a new one.

Before the game there'd been our first taste of controversy
Demetrius Woods was suspended for some kind of idiocy
Our best linebacker sat it out and I'm sure he felt dissed
When this game was over, we'd know how much he was missed.

It didn't matter early on, the Bulls came out on fire
A field goal, then a touchdown, the whole team was inspired
Umholtz boomed a punt and Clif Dell downed it at the one
Then a turnover and touchdown, the Hilltoppers looked done

I mean, it was 17-zip and the Bulls were ROLLING. ROLLING, I tell you. This game was OVER.

The 'Toppers took the field again, the home crowd stood and roared
The game might get away from them unless they got a score.
But then on 3rd and 7, the ballgame took a turn
Taggart went around left end and big yardage he did earn.

Sixty-four yards, to be exact, to set up his own touchdown on 4th and goal. I can still see the huge seam open up along the sideline where Demetrius Woods would have been waiting. And he kept RUNNING AND RUNNING AND RUNNING OH GOD IT'S HAPPENING ALL OVER AGAIN.

"No problem," said the Bulls. "We'll match that with another score
Then we'll get the second-half kick and pile on some more
You haven't stopped us all night long, our O will do the trick!"
But then the great Chad Barnhardt threw an unexpected pick.

Still no panic, though. Up by 10 at the half, getting the ball… everything will be fine.

The boys in green and gold came out but had to punt away
The Hilltoppers took over and on the ground they did stay
For five straight plays but then a fake, uh-oh, what could it be?
A big pass play to none other than Mr. He Hate Me.

Yeah, you forgot Rod Smart went to Western Kentucky, didn't you.

Taggart ran it in again, the lead was cut to three
The crowd was getting antsy and anxiety did breed
Then Barnhardt went back to throw and he did lose the ball
The Toppers kicked a field goal, and there was no lead at all.

The fed-up Bulls said to themselves, "OK, we've seen enough.
Let's take this kick right down the field and show those guys we're tough."
Their word was deed, they got the ball and reached the far end zone.
They led by seven once again and hoped the worst was done.

But back the Toppers came right on the back of Mr. Smart
His 36-yard run was how their scoring drive would start
A few more runs to move the chains, a touchdown they did score
24 points was not enough. Someone would need some more.

Then came a calamity, the kickoff got away.
The Hilltoppers would get a chance to steal the win that day.
Taggart took off running, and he weaved through the Bulls' D
And somehow he reached paydirt for touchdown number three.


Down only seven, USF still had one drive to go.
But after a long drive downfield, a pick Barnhardt did throw.
The Hilltoppers, they took the ball and calmly drained the clock
Then left the field as winners as the fans all yelled out... um... "DARN."


In the end, Taggart ran for 206 yards and three TDs. He was the first person to ever hit the 200-yard rushing mark against USF, and he's still the only quarterback to get there. It remains the biggest lead the Bulls have ever blown in a loss, and even though USF hasn't lost to Western Kentucky since, that game still sticks in the craw of this old-timer.