Associated Press

King shines as Houston sends No. 21 South Florida tumbling from unbeaten ranks

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Houston did not have perhaps the best player in college football in uniform Saturday as All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver was held out with a knee contusion. The Cougars still had the best player on the field in quarterback D’Eriq King, and that was more than enough.

The junior quarterback accounted for seven of Houston’s eight touchdowns as the Coogs blasted previously unbeaten No. 21 South Florida, 57-36.

King posted a career day, hitting 28-of-40 throws for 419 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions (one of those being an end-of-half Hail Mary) while rushing 12 times for a game-high 132 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, the Cougars rolled up 678 yards of total offense, averaging 7.79 yards on their 87 snaps while obtaining 35 first downs and converting 13-of-17 third downs.

Houston jumped out to a 14-0 lead before South Florida forged ties of 14-14 and 21-21 in the second quarter. Each time the Bulls pulled close, however, King was there for an answer. After the 14-14 tie, King found Marquez Stevenson for a 38-yard touchdown, their second such connection of the first half. When USF pulled even at 21-21, King hit Courtney Lark for a 30-yard touchdown with a minute left in the first half.

After South Florida lodged a safety and a field goal to pull within 28-26 early in the third quarter, King led the Cougars on an 8-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 36-yard scoring rush, his second of the day.

South Florida responded with a 25-yard field goal to make the score 35-29, but King hit Jeremy Stevenson for a 52-yard touchdown pass, and Stevenson then caught the ensuing 2-point conversion to push the lead to 14.

Blake Barnett (288 total yards, one touchdown) closed the third quarter with a 39-yard scoring strike to DeAngelo Antoine to pull South Florida back within 43-36 to close the third quarter, which is seemingly where the Bulls wanted the game. South Florida entered Saturday 4-0 under Charlie Strong when trailing entering the fourth quarter.

But King engineered another 75-yard touchdown drive, this time allowing running back Mulbah Car to cross the threshold on an 11-yard rush.

King then added the capper at the 8:05 mark of the third quarter, hitting Raelon Singleton for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

The win announces Houston (7-1, 4-0 AAC) as a legitimate contender with No. 10 UCF in the American, while USF (7-1, 3-1 AAC) suffers the first loss they’ve spent all season flirting with.

Houston jumps up early, but No. 21 South Florida climbs back in it

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Houston jumped out to an early lead and looked like it would leave No. 21 South Florida in its dust.

The Cougars’ offense never really slowed down in the first half, but the Bulls’ attack picked up and the score sits 28-21 in Houston’s favor at the break.

Houston’s first two drives were nearly the same; the first covered 75 yards in seven snaps, the second 74 in eight. Both also ended in D’Eriq King touchdowns, first a 47-yard run and then a 15-yard toss to Marquez Stevenson.

After punting on its first three possessions, South Florida tied the game with consecutive scores. Jordan Cronkite punctuated a 15-play drive with a 1-yard plunge to pull the Bulls within seven at the 10:33 mark of the second quarter. South Florida needed only two plays to tie it from there — the first a Mekhi LaPointe interception of King, then, one play later, a 32-yard Johnny Ford run.

Houston then see-sawed back in front with the second pay dirt pass from King to Stevenson, this one 38 yards, but USF pulled even with another Ford touchdown run.

The Cougars closed the half with King’s third touchdown pass of the second half, a 30-yard fade to Courtney Lark. King closed the half hitting 16-of-22 passes for 232 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions (one on an end-of-half Hail Mary) while rushing a team-high seven times for 74 yards and a score.

South Florida will receive to open the second half.

WATCH: Houston throws two forward passes on same play vs. Texas Tech (and gets away with it!)

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Houston had trouble beating Texas Tech on Saturday, even though they tried throwing forward passes twice on the same play.

In a game that was described as being defense-optional, it would appear the officiating was optional too at times. Early in the third quarter, with Houston trailing by a touchdown, the Cougars ran quite a play that bewildered the officials. Quarterback D’Eriq King threw a quick forward pass to wide receiver Marquez Stevenson. Stevenson scrambled to get away from defenders and then lobbed a pass downfield to Keith Corbin for a gain of 31 yards.

Somehow, the officials let this illegal double forward-pass play go by without a penalty flag.

Though it did not end up costing Texas Tech the game (the Red Raiders won 63-49), this play did pick up a first down on a 2nd & 23 and the drive later ended with a game-tying touchdown by the Cougars to open up the second half.

Remember, it’s only illegal if you get caught.

‘Personal reasons’ lead Houston’s leading rusher to leave team

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Well, this is certainly an interesting, and wholly unexpected, development.

According to multiple media outlets, running back Duke Catalon has decided to leave the Houston football program for what were described only as personal reasons.  The football program hasn’t yet, at least publicly, addressed the running back’s status with the team moving forward.

It’s also unclear at this point whether this would be a temporary or permanent departure.

Catalon was originally a four-star signee as part of Texas’ 2014 recruiting class who transferred to UH in August of 2015.

After sitting out that season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Catalon led the Cougars in rushing each of the past two seasons.  Catalon, who would be entering 2018 as a fifth-year senior, ran for 637 yards this past season and 528 the year before.  In 2016, he was also fourth on the team with 44 receptions out of the backfield.

Houston ends No. 17 USF’s unbeaten season on late TD

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And then there was one.

No. 17 South Florida entered Week Nine as one of two undefeated Group of Five teams.  Thanks to Houston’s last-minute 28-24 win Saturday evening, UCF is now the lone remaining G5 unbeaten.

Tied at 14-all at the start of the fourth quarter, the two teams traded a pair of touchdowns as the game remained tied midway through the final period.  An Emilio Nadelman 30-yard field goal with 1:46 remaining gave the Bulls the lead.

However, the ensuing nine-play, 46-yard drive by the Cougars, set up by Brandon McDowell‘s 50-yard kickoff return, was capped by D'Eriq King‘s 20-yard scoring run that served as the game-winning touchdown.

With the win, UH moves to 3-2 in AAC play, tied with Navy for third in the West behind Memphis (4-1) and SMU (3-1).  USF (4-1) and UCF (4-0) remain the class of the East — UConn is third at 2-3 — and are still on track for a regular-season finale that will likely determine that division’s representative in the conference championship game.