Bragging rights can be the biggest payoff for FCS teams when they play FBS schools. One example is the sports moment judged the greatest in McNeese history. The Cowboys beat South Florida 53-21 on Aug. 31, 2013, for their first win against an FCS team. McNeese also made history with the most points scored and largest margin of victory by an FCS team against an FBS opponent. Matthew Bonnette told the story on McNeese’s website:
TAMPA, Florida — McNeese scored 40 unanswered points, including 31 in the third quarter alone, as the Cowboys rolled off one of the biggest wins in school history by way of a 53-21 victory over South Florida at Raymond James Stadium Saturday night, the school’s first-ever win over an automatic qualifying Bowl Championship Subdivision (BCS) team.
The 53 points was the most scored by a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team over a BCS squad in college football history while the 32-point margin of victory is the largest by an FCS over a BCS team in history, bettering a 25-point win by Furman over North Carolina in 1999.
“I didn’t see this coming because they (USF) have good players,” said head coach Matt Viator. “We got a couple of breaks in the first half and made the most of them. But I was really proud with the way our kids played in the second half. We actually gained points in the second half from the first half. And that’s a testament to our kids coming out with good focus in the second half and good conditioning.
“This is a bigtime win against a Big East (AAC) team in a terrific venue. This is a big win for us.”
USF, a member of the newly formed American Athletic Conference, scored the game’s first points on its first play from scrimmage when Marcus Shaw scampered 80 yards to make it 7-0 with 12:47 to play in the first quarter.
McNeese got on the board after a bad snap on a Bulls’ punt attempt sailed over punter Matti Ciabatti’s head and through the back of the endzone to make it 7-2 at the 7:55 mark of the quarter.
From that point, McNeese made the most of its opportunities with 31 second-quarter points, started by a 7-yard run by Kelvin Bennett to put the Cowboys up 9-7. Dylan Long scored his first career touchdown just 24 seconds later after linebacker Bo Brown forced and recovered a Bulls fumble.
New tight end Nic Jacobs caught a 22-yard touchdown pass with 6:47 to play and Jean Breaux nailed a 47-yard field goal 3-and-a-half minutes later to put the Cowboys up 26-7 with 3:13 to play. But it was the play by cornerback Guy Morgan that seemed to seal the game.
With USF driving late in the second quarter, Morgan stepped in front of a Matt Floyd pass and ran 76 yards for the touchdown to make it 33-7 McNeese with 12 seconds remaining in the half.
“I thought that was huge, no doubt about it,” said Viator of Morgan’s interception. “That was obviously a huge play in the game. Ryan Bronson picks off the ball to start off the second half, which was a huge play.”
Long scored his second touchdown of the game after a 1-yard plunge following Bronson’s pick to make it 40-7 but the Bulls quickly scored after Bobby Eveld connected with Stephen Bravo-Brown for 59 yards to cut the lead to 40-14 with 11:23 to play in the third quarter.
Ryan Rome followed with a 32-yard field goal to up the score to 43-14 with 4:23 to play then the Bulls cut it to 43-21 after a 7-yard Andre Davis touchdown reception from Eveld with 13:57 to go in the game.
“I felt like the momentum was getting away from us. We had been running the screen and I thought we had them set up on the double move to Nic Jacobs. I felt like the momentum was getting away and we called it and hit it,” said Viator. “I didn’t know it was going 70-80 yards but I thought that was a big play too.”
That play was a 78-yard pass to Jacobs to sped down the middle of the field and fought his way into the endzone for the score and a 50-21 lead.
Rome finished the scoring with a 24-yard field goal to make it 53-21 with 5:37 to play.
McNeese outgained USF in offensive yards by a 424-342 margin. Stroud completed 12 of 21 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Marcus Wiltz led the rushing attack with 79 yards on 13 carries while Long added 56 yards on 13 carries and two scores.
Jacobs led four players who caught passes with five catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Ernest Celestie added four grabs.
On the cover and middle: McNeese’s Everett Ellefsen sacks South Florida quarterback Bobby Eveld during the Cowboys 53-21 rout in 2013. (Courtesy Matthew Bonnette/McNeese Sports Information)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Maine and Marshall
• Tuesday: Massachusetts (UMass) and Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell)
• Wednesday: McNeese and Memphis
• Thursday: Mercer and Merrimack
• Friday: Miami (Ohio) and Michigan Tech