USF falls despite Flowers’ huge game

by Gary Shelton on November 25, 2017 · 1 comment

in general

Flowers kept USF close throughout the game./CARMEN MANDATO

Quinton Flowers had  the best game of his career in the loss to UCF, keeping USF  close the entire way./CARMEN MANDATOUniversity of South Florida vs University of Central FloridaSaturday, 3 a.m.

It was over now, the slow start and the quick catchup, the tying touchdown,the heartbeat and the sweat, Quinton Flowers, his dark eyes flashing in the stadium lights, moved slowly from the football field on which the wrong team was celebrating.

Flowers had done so much, but in the end, it was too little. He and his team had fallen just short of UCF, 49-42, in one of the finest games this state has seen. Someday, maybe that will be some solace. For now, there was just the feeling of being second best.

This is how you will remember Flowers, throwing and passing and

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Mitchell Wilcox has the ball poked out by UCF./CARMEN MANDATO

Mitchell Wilcox has the ball poked out by UCF./CARMEN MANDATO

University of South Florida vs University of Central Florida

Wilcox was inconsolable after his fumble./CARMEN MANDATO

willing his team toward the end zone. This is his legacy, of one man trying to stand up against UCF's turnaround tale. This was his finest moment, stacked upon all the other moments.

This was Flowers, the finest USF player of them all. And in the end, he was incredi-bull.

What more can a man do besides, perhaps, make a tackle on a kickoff team? Flowers threw for 503 yards, four scores and a two-point conversion. He ran for 102 yards (of the team's total of 150) and a touchdown. He had a school-record 605 total yards.

Tice calls out the signals before his touchdown run./CARMEN MANDATO

Tice calls out the signals before his touchdown run./CARMEN MANDATO

He has never been better, never been more dangerous. And if tight end Mitchell Wilcox hadn't fumbled away the team's last gasp, then who knows? He might have brought USF back one more time.

“It was unbelievable the way he ran the ball, the way he threw the ball, the way he kept getting us out of trouble,” said coach Charlie Strong. “We went for a walk this morning, and he was off by himself. He had a serious look on his face. You could tell tonight was going to be his night. He just played his heart out and gave us everything he’s got. What a great player he is.”

McCants had 227 yards worth of receptions./CARMEN MANDATO

McCants had 227 yards worth of receptions./CARMEN MANDATO

Tyre McCants had 227 yards on nine receptions.

In the end, UCF was just too much. The Knights' own quarterback – McKenzie Milton – also threw for four touchdowns and 377 yards. But it was a 95-yard kickoff return by Mike Hughes that was the difference in the game.

It's odd. There are USF fans who still frown in the direction of Flowers and say he is not accurate enough. On this night, he was. And with only a bowl game left in his Bulls' career, he will not soon be forgotten.

"A lot of people always say I can’t throw, I can’t do a lot of things,” Flowers said. "I was prepared for it and I just told myself, ‘Make it happen. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. They aren’t going to expect you to pass the ball a lot like that.’ I just came out and I just gave my guys a chance.”

Nadelman reacts after missing an extra point./CARMEN MANDATO

Nadelman reacts after missing an extra point./CARMEN MANDATO

USF fell behind early, 21-7. But the Bulls battled back before missing a field goal and an extra point.

The game was filled with big moments for both teams. Flowers' 47-yard touchdown pass to McCants. His 24-yard run. His 83-yard pass to Darnell Salomon. His two-point converstion to D'Ernest Johnson.

USF made too many mistakes, of course. Flowers had an interception. Emelio Nadelman missed a field goal and an extra point. Wilcox had the fumble on the last drive. And the Bulls failed to cover UCF's final kickoff return.

But it was the best USF effort for weeks, despite the loss. For once, no one could say the opposition wasn't good enough. For once, no one could say the Bulls underachieved.

"His heart is truly broken," Strong said of Wilcox. "And it’s so hard because he takes it so hard, and it wasn’t his fault."

USF will go to a bowl game that has yet to be determined.

Salomon caught an 83-yard pass to tie the game at 42./CARMEN MANDATO

Salomon caught an 83-yard pass to tie the game at 42./CARMEN MANDATO

 

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rick Martin November 25, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Unfortunately one of the teams had to lose. Great respect for Flowers and to learn of his story (parent’s, brother’s death) provided a moving backdrop to the entire season and this game. His last game, a tough loss left him smiling and congratulating the opponents. He smiled in losing because he knows that things can be much worse in life than losing a football game. The team will miss him as a QB and leader.

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