One last time, Flowers stars as Bulls rally for victory

by Gary Shelton on December 24, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Flowers' fantastic finish leads Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

Flowers' fantastic finish leads Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 3 a.m.

Flowers leaves the Bulls with 34 records./CARMEN MANDATO

Flowers leaves the Bulls with 34 records./CARMEN MANDATO

Time after time, he left you gasping for air. Game after game, he left you trying to coast your heart back out of your throat. Play after play, he turned a football game into his own highlight reel.

He is Quinton Flowers.

The best the USF Bulls have ever had.

Strong argues on behalf of the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

Strong argues on behalf of the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

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McCants overcome with emotion after his touchdown led to win./CARMEN MANDATO

McCants overcome with emotion after his touchdown led to win./CARMEN MANDATO

Flowers said farewell to the Bulls Saturday,  but not before he had another dazzling performance for USF, leading the Bulls to a 38-34 victory over Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl. Flowers drove his team 75 yards in 75 seconds, hitting Tyre McCants for a  26-yard touchdown with 16 seconds remaining.

By now, they might as well change the name of the bowl to the Flowers Bowl. He finished his career with 34 records, including the total offense record for the American Conference. Flowers is only the fourth player in FBS history to throw for more than 8,000 yards and rush for more than 3,500.

Wilcox goes up for a reception./CARMEN MANDATO

Wilcox goes up for a reception./CARMEN MANDATO

"You look at Q, a very unselfish player." said Bulls' coach Charlie Strong. "The players have so much respect for him. They know they always have a chance to win when the ball is in No. 9's hands. He's a special player and the thing you look at is just how he carries himself on the field as well as off the field. He's going to be really missed around here."

In a way, Flowers’finish was made more special because he  had a rare pedestrian first half. He threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns, and he ran for 106 and another score, and he delivered the winning strike to Tyre McCants with 16 seconds left to play.

In the second half, Flowers hit 13 of 20 passes for 269 yards and ran eight times for 91 yards to win game MVP honors.

Ronnie Hoggins celebrates an incomplete pass./CARMEN MANDAT0

Ronnie Hoggins celebrates an incomplete pass./CARMEN MANDAT0

In 3 1/2 seasons, Flowers quarterbacked the Bulls to 30 victories, including 21 (countiong bowl games) the last two seasons.

Said Strong: “When you get the ball back, you have a guy like Q, who can make plays. He can make the throws, and he can get the ball into the position where it needed to get to. You always feel like you have a chance.”

The Bulls botched several scoring drives, including three where they were  stopped on fourth down. On the other hand, the Red Raiders had their chances, too. A 34-yard pass as time expired left Tech on the USF 13.

For Texas Tech, Nic Shimonek had 416 yards passing (but two interceptions.) Keke Coutee caught 11 passes for 187 yards, and Justin Stockton ran for 103 yards. Flowers totaled 417 yards. Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught three passes for 244 yards and a score. McCants caught six passes for 88 yards and two scores.

There weren't a lot of fireworks in the first half of the game, which finished 10-10. Texas Tech, however, led 10-3, 17-10, 24-17 , 27-14 and 34-31. The last touchdown -- a pass from Shimonek to T.J. Vasher -- came with just 1:31 to play.

But Flowers had one final drive left. His last pass of his career was his 71st scoring pass.

Johnson finds running room for Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

Johnson finds running room for Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

So what does it mean? For Strong, it means relief from the carping about his predicatable offense. A lot of Bulls' fans were convinced this was a dynamite team that would overwhelm a weak schedule. But when you factor in the losses of Marlon Mack and Rodney Adams, it pretty much left Flowers by himself.

And Flowers? Coming into the season, you could mention a lot of other Bulls -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Matt Groethe, B.J. Daniel, Andre Hall -- as possibly the best Bull ever. But who is kidding whom? Flowers is the best player this team has had.

Auggie Sanchez makes a tackle for the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

Auggie Sanchez makes a tackle for the Bulls./CARMEN MANDATO

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