The USF Bulls opened home play Saturday afternoon against Stony Brook in dreary weather and slow play but held off the Seawolves to win 31-17.
Coming into tonight’s game, there was talk that the second string guys would get to see some field time with expectations that USF would pull away quick with the lead but that’s not how it happened. In fact, going into the fourth quarter, the Bulls were tied with Stony Brook.
Stony Brook scored first, which wasn’t a big deal as USF answered in the same quarter to make it 7-7. It was what unfolded next that had many scratching their heads. USF’s offense just couldn’t get things rolling.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers ended up 19-32 with one interception and just 67 rushing yards. The offense racked up a total of 339 total yards, which is relatively lower than the 511 average they saw last year.
While the offense picked up and made plays when plays needed to be made, perhaps the bigger story was the defense.
USF Defense, Defense, Defense!
It was a win, and a win is a win, but it wasn’t pretty. The Bulls’ defense stepped up and played a great game.
“The thing that is happening now too is we are playing better defense, and so now it’s not like it’s all on the offenses shoulder where you have to go score because we’re going to give up points on defense,” said head coach Charlie Strong.
“The plan to win is go play great defense. Create turnovers, score in the red zone, win the kicking game.”
The defense did just that for Strong. The Bulls came up with two interceptions, one of which the offense was able to score off. USF also held Stony Brook to just five of 17 possible third down conversions.
Stony Brook had just 97 rushing yards and 229 total yards. Middle linebacker Auggie Sanchez led the team with 12 tackles while DE Kirk Livingston led with 2.5 tackles for loss.
Quinton Flowers Shows His Heisman Worthiness
Flowers took some heat tonight, and he wasn’t afraid to show his frustration at times on the field. He finished the night with 186 passing yards and 67 rushing yards. Yes, those running yards are a bit lower than the numbers he put up last year but remember this is a new coaching staff.
It’s just the second game of the year with a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator.
“Everybody is still trying to adjust (to the new coaching staff), even me,” said Flowers. “What my coach wants to see out of me, I’m still trying to figure out, the reasons why he wants to go there and what he’s going there for so I understand why he’s going there too.”
Playing a Colonial Athletic Association team held a lot of expectations for USF. At halftime, the crowd booed Flowers and the Bulls as they headed to the locker room but that didn’t hinder them in the second half.
“We just stayed together as a team,” said Flowers. “That’s what we did out there, and that’s why we came away with a W.”
“I feel good about my quarterback,” said Strong. “He’s very explosive and a really good football player.”
Despite the low numbers Flowers made spectacular, sound plays that in turn did get USF the win.
Tice, Fullwood Stand Out
It wouldn’t be a college football game without some explosive plays and some skill players standing out. In the season opener against San Jose State USF turned to running backs D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice. Tonight Tice had a good game and moved the ball when the offense seemed to be stalled.
He finished with 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Between his and Flowers’ legs, the run game saw some success and helped the Bulls get on the scoreboard.
Perhaps another standout player was Tajee Fullwood who had a stellar 47-yard punt return to get the Bulls in the red zone. He would get three punt returns for a total of 85 yards.
USF looks ahead to next week as they hit the road for their first conference game against UConn.
Stony Brook (6:57): Blocked punt A. Contressa; A. Lucansky kick good (Stony Brook 7-0)
USF (4:49): 1-yard run by Darius Tice; E. Nadelman kick good (tied 7-7)
-Scoring Drive: 9 plays for 73 yards across 2:08
Stony Brook (3:57): Alex Lucansky 36 yd FG (Stony Brook 10-7)
-Scoring Drive: 11 plays for 39 yards across 4:02
USF (2:43): Q. Flowers 6-yard TD pass to M. Scantling; E. Nadelman kick good (USF 14-10)
-Scoring Drive: 18 plays for 80 yards across 5:08
USF (0:32): E. Nadelman 33 yd FG (USF 17-10)
-Scoring Drive: 4 plays for 0 yards across 0:17
Stony Brook (13:04): S. Bedell 54-yard TD run; A. Lucansky kick good (tied 17-17)
-Scoring Drive: 6 plays for 75 yards across 2:28
USF (11:23): Q. Flowers 65-yard TD pass to T. McCants; E. Nadelman kick good (USF 24-17)
-Scoring Drive: 4 plays for 82 yards across 1:41
USF (1:40): D. Tice 6-yard TD run; E. Nadelman kick good (USF 31-17)
-Scoring Drive: 4 plays for 25 yards across 0:58