UH survives late push by USF

UH defeated USF 35-23 Thursday at Reliant Stadium.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

USF freshman quarterback Mike White caused problems for the UH defense. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

On Halloween night, USF gave UH its biggest scare of the season.

Though penalties have plagued UH’s young squad all year, a call that went against USF helped the Cougars retain their undefeated conference record with a 35-23 victory on Thursday at Reliant Stadium.

With 4:06 remaining and a chance to take the lead with a touchdown, USF freshman quarterback Mike White tossed a 27-yard pass down to the UH 1-yard line. But instead of four opportunities to take the lead from inside the 1-yard line, receiver Andre Davis was called for offensive pass interference, backing the Bulls up 15 yards and setting the stage for a turnover-prone defense to make a play.

“At first I thought it was a defensive pass interference, and I thought they were going to get the touchdown regardless,” said junior linebacker Efrem Oliphant. “Seeing that it was an offensive pass interference and moving them back even further, it gave us a little more energy so we could get the stop.”

One play later, freshman defensive end Tyus Bowser sacked White while forcing a fumble that junior defensive tackle Jeremiah Farley recovered. Eight plays later, sophomore running back Kenneth Farrow scored from five yards out to put the game out of reach.

In many ways, it was an uncharacteristic game for the Cougars, who led by 15 with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. UH, which leads the nation in turnover ratio, would have lost the turnover battle if not for two takeaways on USF’s final offensive drives. And Farrow, a team captain, was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that stalled an offensive drive and almost allowed the Bulls to take the lead on the ensuing drive.

“I was sick to my stomach about that. I have to do better than that in the game. I can’t be doing that. That was selfish of me. Everyone did what they had to do and stepped up and picked up the slack,” Farrow said.

The Cougars’ offense did put up a performance indicative of their earlier numbers. Freshman quarterback John O’Korn connected with 10 different receivers. He notched three touchdown passes for the third consecutive game to bring his total to 22 for the season.

Sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry was a consistent target across the middle, where the Cougars felt they had an advantage on short and intermediate routes. His 48-yard touchdown on a slant gave the Cougars a 28-16 lead.

“We felt like we could attack them a little bit over the middle with the quick passing game and with some play action passing. We didn’t take as many shots down the field as we had in other games,” said head coach Tony Levine.

In the first half, UH exercised its quick-strike offense. On its first drive, UH went 64 yards in three plays. Greenberry took a slant 49 yards, and senior receiver Xavier Maxwell had a 6-yard score with 12:49 in the first quarter.

On the following offensive possession, the Cougars expanded their lead to 14-3 when Farrow made a defender miss on a 3-yard shovel pass from O’Korn. Next, the Cougars take on UCF on the road in a battle for first place in the American Athletic Conference standings.

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  • I have a feeling USF is gonna win a lot of games with that Mike White kid at QB– he has a WICKED arm.

    The coogs were a little flat against USF, but they won anyway.

    Let’s hope they wake up a bit by next week

  • Great write-up Christopher. You brought out some details that I was unaware of. That’s what I like about coming here before checking out the Chronicle; I know that you guys will search for important parts of the game.
    I hadn’t realized that John threw to so many different receivers. That’s great offensive play calling (and of course follow through from the receivers) to throw defenses off guard if they think that Deontay’s going to be thrown all of the passes.
    Let’s go next game and Eat Em Up Raw!!

  • Good article!! I’m glad we are now 7-1, and still BCS bowl hopeful. One think I feel really bad about is the fans. Records shows 22k tickets sold, but it looked like about half showed up or so. Student section had many empty seats as well. Come on fans, we have to support our school and the program, or we will never be invited to big conferences. GO COOGS!!!

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