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Bulls give it their best shot - twice
Grothe is on target in the end zone but his receivers can't make a play.
By MIKE CAMUNAS, Times Correspondent
Published November 4, 2007
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TAMPA - Goodness gracious. That just about sums it up for coach Jim Leavitt.
The 11th-year coach couldn't believe how close No. 20 USF came to pulling out a win during Saturday's 38-33 loss to Cincinnati.
The Bulls had 25 seconds and had reached the Bearcats' 18. They got not one, but two chances to score.
"Goodness gracious, that was close," Leavitt said. "That (second) ball hit (receiver Jessie Hester) in the chest, I believe."
With eight seconds remaining, Matt Grothe rolled right and threw to receiver Carlton Mitchell. The redshirt freshman got his left hand on the ball, but cornerback Mike Mickens broke up the pass with a well-timed jump.
"I had a pretty good jump on him," said Mitchell, who led all receivers with seven catches for 110 yards. "But he went inside and made a good play.
"Me, personally, as a receiver, I thought I should have made (the) catch, but he made a good play."
USF had two seconds left. So once more from the 18, Grothe rolled left, and this time saw Hester in the back of the end zone. Though replays show defensive back Anthony Williams made contact, the ball hit Hester in the chest.
"I saw the whole thing happen and I saw Jessie standing in the back of the end zone and I thought (Williams) bumped him ... I thought it was going to be a penalty," Mitchell said. "But it wasn't. Once I saw the play, that's it ... I just dropped to my knees."
Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory was amazed the Bulls even had a shot at the end zone.
"I was surprised (Cincinnati) ran a fake field goal," Gregory said of the play that gave the Bulls possession at their 39. "We thought we'd only have two plays (but) ended up getting four plays and two shots at the end zone."
Leavitt said he "thought there was enough happening" on the last pass attempt to warrant a flag, but felt the Bulls had two good chances to win.
"Carlton had his hands on the ball ... I thought he was going to come down with it and we we're going to win the game," Leavitt said. "I thought Jessie's for sure. It (didn't) seem like it was a very clean play. But I think (Hester) would have gotten his feet in and game over ... we win. But what do you do ... what do you tell him?