Bulls roll over Big 10 opponent Illinois

by Gary Shelton on September 16, 2017 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, USF

Flowers threw for four touchdowns and ran for one./CARMEN MANDATO

Flowers threw for four touchdowns and ran for one./CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 3 a.m.

In the most beautiful sunset you can imagine, there are a couple of dark clouds.

During the most electric concert in history, someone may hit a wrong note.

In the most amazing piece of art ever painted, someone blurred the portrait in the corner.

And so you have the USF Bulls, who were not perfect Friday night. For the first time this season, they were just very, very good.

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Johnson had 101 yards in the Bulls' win./CARMEN MANDATO

Johnson had 101 yards in the Bulls' win./CARMEN MANDATO

Finally, USF looked like a top 20 team in its destruction of a previously unbeaten Illinois team. Granted, the Bulls had a field goal and an extra point blocked, and granted, they gave up two long drives in the fourth period, and granted, they committed 140 yards worth of penalties.

On the other hand, USF 47, Illinois 23.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: Thank goodness it wasn't Stony Brook, the opponent the Bulls barely got by in their previous outing. It was Illinois, coached by former Bucs coach Lovie Smith. It was a Big 10 opponent.

Strong got his team ready in a short week./CARMEN MANDATO

Strong got his team ready in a short week./CARMEN MANDATO

And USF won going away.

Think about it.

The Bulls ran 98 plays.

The Bulls gained 680 yards of offense.

The Bulls had three runners finish with more than 100 yards (Quinton Flowers, D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice) for only the second time in school history.

The Bulls had two receivers finish with more than 90 yards (Marquez Valdes-Scantling with 96 and Deangelo Antoine with 93).

The Bulls had quarterback Quinton Flowers throw for four touchdown passes.

The Bulls ran for 376 yards.

The Bulls had 38 first downs, the second most in school history.

Any questions?

Tice had 105 yards for the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

Tice had 105 yards for the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

“When you look at the first two games we played and then tonight, it was a major step for us,” said USF coach Charlie Strong. “Offensively, we hadn't produced. If we didn't have the blocked kicks and the penalties, who knows what kind of night we would have had.”

It wasn't bad, considering it was less than a week ago when Strong awoke at 4 a.m. On Saturday morning, a day before the storm hit. Immediately, he worried where his players are. He called an assistant and told him to reach them.

Three practices later, and the previously sluggish Bulls won an impressive game.

“The guys say that's all they need now,” Strong said. “But that isn't going to happen.

I'm very proud with the way we responded. We had 3,100 or 3,400 high school players and coaches here. We had 2,100 first responders.

“We had a chance to give back to the city and to the state. We could give them a little sense of relief for a few hours.”

Antoine had 93 yards and a touchdown receiving./CARMEN MANDATO

Antoine had 93 yards and a touchdown receiving./CARMEN MANDATO

The Bulls also had a chance to finally pummel an opponent. They didn't do it against San Jose State until late. They didn't do it against Stony Brook until later. Flowers looked out of sorts. The offensive line looked out of rhythm.

No more. USF wasn't complete — not with the blocked kicks and the penalties — but it was impressive. At one point, the Bulls scored on five of six drives, including a drive in the final 2:18 of the first half. With 15 seconds to play, Flowers hit a 32-yard pass to Antoine. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, he ran in from six yards out on the final play of the half.

“He's really tough for defense,” Strong said. “They think they have him, but his eyes are always downfield. He just lets go. There was one play when he made about four people miss. He 's a special player. There are not many guys like that.

“It's amazing. The guy can do so much. He'll tell you he left a few yards out on the field.”g

The Bulls play Temple, which beat USF a yesr  ago, on Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling had 96 receiving yards./CARMEN MANDATO

Marquez Valdes-Scantling had 96 receiving yards./CARMEN MANDATO

 

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