Fit for a King: QB shines in new role, tames No. 17 Bulls
The nation’s longest winning streak was left in shambles Saturday night when the Cougars handed the No. 17 USF Bulls a 28-24 loss thanks to a clutch effort from sophomore quarterback D’Eriq King.
After USF took a 21-14 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the ensuing drive saw King record a career high 44-yard rush to put the Cougars within striking distance. Three plays later, the sophomore knotted the game at 21 when he capped off a 10-play 75-yard drive with a rushing score from three yards out.
Entering the game, Houston’s defense knew it would have its hands full trying to contain the Bulls’ offense, which is among the best in the NCAA. Cougars’ defenders held the Bulls’ offense to just 7-for-23 on third down conversions, but no stop was more important than holding South Florida to a 30-yard field goal with over four minutes left to play.
The excess time allowed King — who gained visible confidence with each additional rep at his new position — to nickle and dime his way down the field until the moment of reckoning presented itself.
An untimely 4th & 24 with under a minute left to play and no timeouts remaining, it seemed the Cougars would likely lose a third game in a row for what would’ve been the first time since the 2012 season. Just then, King found sophomore receiver Courtney Lark for a 30-yard reception and a fresh set of downs in enemy territory.
Plays later, King sealed the Bulls’ fate when he capped off his debut performance with a 20-yard TD run that put the Cougars up by four points with only ticks remaining in regulation.
The Cougars’ newest quarterback finished his first game at the position 220 total yards, 3 TDs, no turnovers and one win that will stick in the minds of Cougar fans for seasons to come. With all other options at QB now exhausted, the future is now for Houston football with King under center.
South Florida’s loss marks the first time the team has dropped a game since Oct. 21, 2016 and gives first-year Bulls’ head coach Charlie Strong his first loss while wearing green and white.
Now 5-3 with three games remaining, the Cougars need one more win to become bowl eligible, but will need to win two wins to lock a spot in the postseason.
Houston now returns home for its 2017 Homecoming Game to be played Saturday against the East Carolina University Pirates. Kick-off at TDECU Stadium is set for 11 a.m.