Jordan Cronkrite ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns, and Jahquez Evans added 99 yards and a score in a part-time QB role as the USF Bulls rolled to an easy 45-20 win over the East Carolina Pirates in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C.
Cronkrite and Evans were the main engines of a USF running attack that gained a season high 347 yards. They both found the end zone in a run of 35 straight points for the Bulls, putting the game comfortably out of reach by halftime.
The game did not start so auspiciously for the Bulls (4-4, 2-2 American East). East Carolina’s Tyler Snead ran the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to put the Pirates up 7-0. However, USF quickly got their offense going. Cronkrite and Jordan McCloud did most of the work on a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that Cronkrite capped off with a 5-yard touchdown run. Two drives later, McCloud finished another march with a 21-yard TD pass to tight end Jacob Mathis to give USF a 14-7 lead that they would not lose.
McCloud completed nine of 12 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran four times for 49 yards. However, he and Evans, who took some snaps as a wildcat quarterback, both left the game at halftime with injuries. By that time USF already had a 35-10 lead, so their absences may have been precautionary. Walk-on Kirk Rygol stepped in during the second half and led two more scoring drives, including a rocket 24-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Horne for the Bulls’ final points of the day.
For East Carolina (3-5, 0-4 American East), Holton Ahlers completed 18 of 28 passes for 217 yards, but many of those yards came long after the game was decided. He threw a critical interception in the second quarter when the Pirates were driving deep in USF territory. Greg Reaves dropped back into coverage and picked off Ahlers’s pass, then ran it back 48 yards to set up another Bulls touchdown.
ECU only managed 13 points on six trips inside the USF red zone. The Bulls’ defense forced both Pirate turnovers in the red zone and also registered a goal-line stand.
The Bulls are now 9-1 all time against the Pirates. They have won five straight meetings and have never lost a game in Greenville (5-0). USF has a week off to rest, recover, and get ready for the Temple Owls on Thursday, November 7 at Raymond James Stadium.