USF’s Strong finish leads to comeback victory

by Gary Shelton on August 27, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Sunday, 2 a.m.

There for a minute, or fifteen, everything seemed wrong.

USF had hired the wrong coach. Quinton Flowers had become ordinary. And USF seemed to be headed for one of the most disappointing starts in its history.

Charlie Strong had lost the playbook. The team had practiced in the dark. It was living in the past. Something.

Fifteen minutes into the Strong era, and USF trailed 16-0, and seven of its

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first 18 plays had lost yardage. The Bulls had had a short punt and one that was blocked, and San Jose State looked a lot like Alabama.

Relax, Strong might have said. The Bulls gathered themselves and scored 42 unanswered points, and took a 42-22 opening win despite the first quarter funk. USF had 548 yards, including 315 on the ground.

“Once we got going, then we were able to put it all together,” Strong said. “You can see it, we can explode on offense. We’ve got some guys that can really play and guys that can move the ball and get first downs for us. Then defensively, we were able to get the turnovers and on third down, we were able to get off the field and make plays.”

USF scored 28 straight points and had 271 yards of offense in their second-period outburst.

“I just told them, ‘Listen guys, it’s a 60-minute game and we’re not going to panic,” Strong said. “We still have a lot of football left out here and we’re going to get going.’”

Quinton Flowers, who has been mentioned in the Heisman discussion, threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 70 yards, including a 1-yard score, in about three and a half quarters of work. With 31 career rushing touchdowns, Flowers is just one more score from Marlon Mack’s school record.

D'Ernest Johnson rushed for 99 yards and Darius Tice for 94 for the Bulls. Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught six passes for 91 yards. Johnson also had a 50-yard touchdown run.

“I had to press the hole a little bit. I didn’t see anything there, then I bounced it outside and the receivers gave me some great blocks,” Johnson said. “They did their job well and all I had to do was run from there.”

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