USF’s big second half leads to 61-31 win

by Gary Shelton on October 1, 2017 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, USF

Strong's defesne struggled early, but the BUlls won big./CARMEN MANDATO

Strong's defense struggled early, but the Bulls won big./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 2 a.m.

The problem with USF football? The final scores might not always show you where the struggles are.

Take the win over East Carolina Saturday. The final score was 61-31, perhaps the kind of score you would figure from the undefeated (and 18th-ranked) Bulls.

Ah, but there were some wobbly moments along the way. The Bulls led only 31-24 at the half, and the Pirates appeared to have figured out the Bulls' highly regarded defense. Quarterback Thomas Sirk, who ended up with 302 yards passing, made you wonder for a bit if East Carolina could keep up with the Bulls.

Well, no. They couldn't.

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Flowers hasn'thad his numbers from last uear, but he's been effective./CARMEN MANDATO

Flowers hasn't had his numbers from last year, but he's been effective./CARMEN MANDATO

For once, the USF offense looked like last year's. The Bulls ran for a season-high 390 yards. Quarterback Quinton Flowers took over the lead for rushing yards among 1-A quarterbacks from Florida from Tim Tebow with 2,989 yards.

“Whenever he gets going, with the way he runs the football, it opens up the whole offense,” USF coach Charlie Strong said of Flowers. “His throwing game, he took advantage of it. He was able to get Valdes a big catch there. When Quinton is going, then this offense is going to go.”

The Bulls outscored ECU 30-7 in the second half. USF extended its 30-plus point streak to 22 games, one off the AP Poll era record, by halftime after a highly productive first quarter.

“Just overall, I’m just very pleased with how we had a resilient group,” said USF coach Charley Strong. “Even when we were in a battle, and it’s always tough on the road, we were able to pull it out.”

After having three 100-yard backs two games ago and two last week, the Bulls had only one in D'Ernest Johnson (111 yards). But quarterback Quinton Flowers had 93, receiver Marques Valdes-Scantling had 80 and Darren Tice had 65. Valdes-Scantling also had 94 yards receiving.

“Valdes just stepped up and I said that to our team,” Strong said. “I said it’s good to see him step up. He made the big run of 75, then he had another touchdown. He had some big catches and we were able to convert on third down, and he got a pass interference down there in the end zone, where he was able to catch the ball.”

Flowers threw for two touchdowns and ran for one.

Linebacker Auggie Sanchez returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown.

“We just started playing,” Strong said of the second half. “We didn’t do that the first half. We were back on our heels and they made a couple of throws. Then we just got settled down and just kind of limited what we were doing. When we limited what we were doing, they started playing and playing within themselves.”

The Bulls are off next week, then return home to play against Cincinnati on Oct. 14.

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