USF Hangs On To Win The Birmingham Bowl In Overtime

USF Blows 18 Point Lead, But Hangs On In Overtime

What looked to be a blowout turned into a nail biter in a matter of minutes. The South Florida Bulls go 11-2 on the season with a Birmingham Bowl victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks 46-39.

The game started off with both teams performing a tad bit sloppy. After USF turned the ball over on downs, safety Devin Abraham of the Bulls picked off the young South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley to give the ball back to Quinton Flowers. That was Abraham’s first interception of the season after sitting out for a four games due to a broken thumb.

On the first score of the game the Bulls go for a two-point conversion with a pass from backup quarterback Brett Kean to tight end Mitchell Wilcox giving the Bulls an early lead that they would later run off with.

At the end of the first quarter Flowers was 10 of 11 for 86 passing yards. The Bulls out gained South Carolina 183 to 39 and dominated the game with two touchdowns taking a 15-0 lead.

But things started kicking in for the South Carolina offense in the second quarter as the Bull Shark Defense let Bentley complete some passes to USC wide receiver Deebo Samuels to get them on the board and back into the game.

Early in the second quarter running back Marlon Mack was seen limping off the field and being tended to by trainers. As that was happening Flowers found running back D’Ernest Johnson for a 22-yard strike on fourth down setting Flowers up for another rushing touchdown.

Photo: USF Athletics

With his third rushing touchdown of the game Flowers set a new Birmingham Bowl record for most touchdowns and points in a game by one player.

Going into the half the Bulls led 29-14, but in a turn of events that score would quickly change.

South Carolina opened up the half with a touchdown after a personal foul was called on the USF defense.

In the Bulls first possession of the second half they had to settle for a field goal. Yet it was cornerback Tajee Fullwood that intercepted Bentley for a pick six to give USF an 18 point lead.

With those two scores the Bulls extended their nation-leading streak to 17 games scoring at least 30 points.

But the defense wasn’t done with that. Following the pick six South Carolina drove down the field to the one yard line where the Bulls safety Jaymon Thomas forced and recovered a fumble to give the ball back to USF. Yet the Gulf Coast Offense was unable to take advantage of that opportunity and the game turned scary.

Photo: USF Athletics

On a scrambled run by Flowers he was seen inspecting his left hand, which was later taped up on the sidelines. From there it seemed the Gulf Coast Offense started to stall.

Early in the fourth quarter Flowers’ pass to wide receiver Rodney Adams was intercepted. The Gamecocks found the end zone to make it a ball game 39-31.

As Bulls fans sat on the edge of their seat anxiously waiting for the clock to run down the USF defense forced a second fumble within the five yard line, which gave the Gamecocks three turnovers in the second half alone. Yet on both fumble recoveries within the five yard line the Bulls went three and out.

Then the miracle happened for South Carolina as they found the end zone and were successful on a two-point conversion with just a little over a minute left in the game. The score became 39-39 and Flowers was unable to drive the Bulls down the field in time to keep the game from going into overtime.

USF Comes Alive In Overtime

South Carolina called head and won the coin toss for overtime electing to go on defense first. And the Bulls didn’t complain. On the first snap in overtime Flowers patiently sat back and kept the play alive to find tight end Elkanah Dillon in the end zone. The PAT kick was good by backup kicker Brandon Behr, which meant it all came down to the Bull Shark Defense.

South Florida Bulls
Photo: USF Athletics

And the defense stepped up. After a personal foul face mask call the Gamecocks were moved forward half the distance to the goal and Bulls fans really started sweating. After Bentley’s pass was deflected by USF cornerback Ronnie Hoggins it came down to fourth and six and it was all on the line.

The defense held South Carolina to give the Bulls their first bowl victory since 2010.

Side Notes

Winning the Birmingham Bowl gave USF their second ever win over a SEC opponent.

D’Ernest Johnson had a career high six receptions for 95 yards and was an impact player in todays win finishing with 220 all purpose yards.

Marlon Mack and Rodney Adams both returned to the game after hobbling off the field on separate plays appearing banged up.

Quinton Flowers was 23-32 with 261 passing yards and 105 rushing yards. He passed for two touchdowns and ran for three with one interception.

Safety Khalid McGee and linebacker Auggie Sanchez tied for most tackles in today’s victory.

Photo: USF Athletics

Scoring Drives

First Quarter

  • USF (10:25 remaining): Q. Flowers 4-yd TD run. PAT pass by M. Wilcox (GOOD) 8-0
    • 7 plays for 46 yards across 2:26
  • USF (4:26 remaining): Q. Flowers 4-yd TD run. PAT kick by B. Behr (GOOD) 15-0
    • 11 plays for 80 yards across 4:09

Second Quarter

  • SC (14:02 remaining): J. Bentley 25-yd TD pass to H. Hurst. E. Fry kick (GOOD) 15-7
    • 4 plays for 81 yards across 1:14
  • USF (10:40 remaining): Q. Flowers 1-yd TD run. PAT kick by B. Behr (GOOD) 22-7
    • 10 plays for 77 yards across 3:22
  • SC (1:12 remaining): J. Bentley 3-yd TD pass to D. Samuel. E. Fry Kick (GOOD) 22-14
    • 10 plays for 73 yards across 4:26
  • USF (0:07 remaining): Q. Flowers 37-yd pass to D. Johnson. B. Behr kick (GOOD) 29-14
    • 8 plays for 68 yards across 1:05

Third Quarter

  • SC (11:55 remaining): D. Samuel 4-yd TD run. E. Fry kick (GOOD) 29-21
    • 8 plays for 65 yards across 3:05
  • USF (8:07 remaining): B. Behr 21-yd FG 32-21
    • 11 plays for 60 yards across 3:48
  • USF (7:06 remaining): T. Fullwood 47-yd INT. B. Behr kick (GOOD) 39-21
  • SC (0:22 remaining): E. Fry 43-yd FG 39-24
    • 4 plays for 2 yards across 1:32

Fourth Quarter

  • SC (9:41 remaining): J. Bentley 9-yd pass to B. Edwards. E. Fry kick (GOOD) 31-39
    • 9 plays for 77 yards across 4:14
  • SC (1:11 remaining): A.J. Turner 1-yd run. PAT pass by H. Hurst (GOOD) 39-39
    • 3 plays for 2 yards across 1:34
Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.