The University of South Florida defense did nearly everything it needed to Saturday against Miami, but it wasn't enough as the Hurricanes put together a long game-winning drive in the closing minutes to beat the Bulls 6-3.
USF allowed only 316 total yards to a Hurricanes offense that came into the game averaging 385, and the Bulls didn't allow a touchdown to a unit that had scored 37 in 10 previous games.
Miami's offensive line had allowed 13 sacks this year, but the Bulls managed to record six, backing the Hurricanes up 49 yards. Keith McCaskill had two, ahead of DeDe Lattimore's 11/2 sacks. Cory Grissom and Claude Davis added one each, while Patrick Hampton tallied a half-sack.
"I was proud of that," USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said.
"Going into the game … we did not count on having any negative yardage plays because (Miami's offensive line is) so big. We got to Jacory (Harris) a little bit, which was good to see because it kept us in the game for a while."
The Bulls also limited Hurricanes running back Lamar Miller, who entered the game with more than 1,000 yards rushing on the season, to just 50 yards on 20 carries.
But that same defense allowed 61 yards on a final 15-play drive that saw the Hurricanes complete four plays for 10 or more yards before making a field goal as time expired.
"I felt like we were rolling on (defense) and a good defense always wants to be on the field at the end of the game," USF middle linebacker Michael Lanaris said. "That's the position we were put in and we thought we were going to be able to finish."
Though the defense was to blame in a late loss this season against Cincinnati, USF coach Skip Holtz didn't feel the same after this setback, which kept the Bulls stuck on five wins and short of bowl eligibility with two games to play.
"This one certainly didn't fall on the defense," he said. "When you give up three points during the course of a game, especially when the offense was going three and out predominantly the entire second half —you can't keep putting your defense out there and keep asking them to play. I certainly don't put this one on the defense."