The University of South Florida Bulls may have lost to the Houston Cougars 35-23 at Reliant Stadium but they found a starting quarterback to build around for years to come. Making his first career start, Mike White was 26 of 41 for 311 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulls (2-6, 2-2). Andre Davis caught nine passes for 134 yards, and Mike McFarland had two touchdowns. South Florida was penalized 19 times for 170 yards.
But is was not enough as the Cougars led by their quarterback John O’Korn was 22 of 27 for 263 yards and three touchdowns and Houston forced a late fumble to beat South Florida 35-23 on Thursday night.
Deontay Greenberry caught four passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, and Kenneth Farrow had rushing and receiving touchdowns for Houston (7-1, 4-0 Athletic Conference). The Cougars are only FBS team to score in every quarter this season.
Following a muffed punt by Houston, South Florida recovered at the Houston 27 with 6 minutes remaining. Davis was called for offensive pass interference on a catch that would have put the Bulls on the 1. On the next play, Tyus Bowser sacked White and forced a fumble that Jeremiah Farley recovered at midfield.
O’Korn completed an 11-yard pass to Aaron Johnson on third-and-7 to the South Florida 21, and Farrow capped the drive with a 5-yard scoring run with 1:40 remaining.
Trailing 28-16, South Florida trimmed Houston’s lead to five on a 2-yard touchdown pass from White to McFarland on fourth-and-goal. The play capped a 14-play drive.
The Cougars wasted little time upping the lead to 28-13 on a 48-yard touchdown strike from O’Korn to Greenberry 33 seconds after the Bulls had cut the lead eight.
Houston took little time scoring, taking three plays to go 64 yards, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from O’Korn to Xavier Maxwell with 12:49 left in the first. On the first play of the drive, O’Korn hit Greenberry with a quick slant across the middle, and Greenberry took it 49 yards to the 15.
The Cougars extended their lead to 14-3 with a 3-yard shovel pass from O’Korn to Farrow with a minute to go in the opening quarter, capping a 14-play, 93-yard drive.
South Florida answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass from White to McFarland with 11:25 remaining in the first half. The touchdown was the Bulls’ first on offense since Sept. 28 against Miami.
Houston responded with a 6-yard touchdown run from Ryan Jackson 1 ½ minutes later to open a 21-10 lead.
Marvin Kloss made field goals of 39, 50 and 49 yards for South Florida