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Turnovers Doom South Florida in 28-7 Loss to No. 15 Cincinnati

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U-G-L-Y

NCAA Football: South Florida at Cincinnati Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Three USF quarterbacks threw five interceptions as they couldn’t get out of their own way as the Bulls fell to the No. 15 Cincinnati Bearcats 28-7 on Saturday afternoon.

“The offense just didn’t complement the defense today,” USF head coach Jeff Scott said. “Seemed like every time we forced a turnover, we gave it right back.”

True freshman quarterback Katravis Marsh got his first career start for the Bulls, and he’ll hope no one remembers it. The Miami native finished 6-for-13 for 39 yards, and three interceptions.

Marsh threw a pick on the first two USF possessions of the game, but the Bulls’ defense did their best to help the freshman by getting the ball right back both times thanks to an interception by freshman Mac Harris, and a fumble recovery by Wofford transfer Thad Mangum.

Unfortunately, the Bulls (1-2, 0-1 AAC) couldn’t do anything on offense the entire day. USF didn’t score in the first half, which extended their FBS scoreless streak to six quarters dating back to the Notre Dame game.

North Carolina transfer Cade Fortin made his debut for the Bulls, but was just 2-for-6 for 14 yards. He took a hard hit right before the end of the first half, and did not return.

Redshirt sophomore QB Jordan McCloud had some success in the third quarter has he led the only USF scoring drive for the Bulls. He also added an 18-yard reception from Randall St. Felix on a 4th and 13 double reverse pass. Johnny Ford punched it in from two-yards out to cut the deficit to 21-7 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. McCloud end his day on a sour note, throwing two horrific interceptions in the fourth quarter. USF’s five interceptions tied for most in program history.

Cincinnati’s Tre Tucker promptly returned the ensuing kickoff 97-yards for a score to end any threat.

The lone bright spot of the day was the USF defense. Even after being down a starting linebacker, starting safety, two rotation defensive linemen, the backup mike linebacker, and rotation safety, the Bulls managed to force four Cincinnati (3-0, 1-0 AAC) turnovers, and held UC to under 350 yards of total offense.

Reserve linebacker (and converted running back) Brian Norris started in place of Dwayne Boyles and registered a team-high 11 tackles. Vincent Davis also added 11 tackles for the Bulls.

USF welcomes ECU next week at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

Notables:

  • Three newcomers—Mac Harris, Chris Townsel, Thad Mangum— accounted for three of the four defensive turnovers for USF.
  • Tight end Mitchell Brinkman was targeted eight times on offense, hauling in three catches for 36 yards.
  • Johnny Ford had five catches for 43 yards, nine carries for 12 yards, and the lone USF TD.