TULSA, Okla. -- Head coach Willie Taggart asked the USF football team to consider Saturday's game against Tulsa the start of a new season.
The Bulls responded by setting a new standard for resiliency.
Mike White threw three unanswered touchdown passes to Andre Davis in the second half, and USF overcame a 20-point deficit to defeat Tulsa 38-30.
White and Davis connected twice on 15-yard TD catches. For their third strike, White faked a screen to the left, and then hit Davis in stride at the 50 and he ran untouched for an 85-yard touchdown to give the Bulls their first lead, 35-30, with 6 minutes, 13 seconds remaining on the clock.
After Tulsa lost 7 yards and punted on its next series, USF answered with Marvin Kloss kicking a 28-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 38-30 with 2:33 left.
Tulsa's last drive stalled at its own 33.
The comeback from a 27-7 halftime deficit surpassed the previous school record, a 17-point turnaround against Kansas on Nov. 12, 2008.
"Anyone could have quit, and any team that hasn't
won in a while could have quit, but these guys have been fighting," said Taggart, the former Manatee High quarterback who is in his second year as the Bulls head coach. "They've been working hard, and things weren't going the way we wanted early in the season, but it's a new season ... with our mentality, our effort and the way we play."
Booker product Marlon Mack added 130 yards rushing and two touchdowns for USF (3-4, 2-1 AAC).
Dane Evans threw for 314 yards and a touchdown to lead Tulsa (1-6, 1-2).
Davis tied the school record for touchdown receptions in a game and tied the mark for career scoring catches with 14. He caught six passes for 154 yards.
"Whatever I have to do for my team to make a play, that's what I'm going to do," Davis said. "If I'm out there and I have to make a block, I'm going to make the block. I know eventually the ball is going to fall in my hands."
White came up with the best performance of his career, completing 17 of 26 passes for 272 yards, 211 of them in the second half.
The USF defense limited Tulsa to 174 yards after halftime. Auggie Sanchez made a career-high 11 tackles, and Nigel Harris came up with seven.