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USF Bounces Back With Big Win At UConn

A week after a maddening home loss to Houston, USF responded well with a 37-20 victory at UConn on Saturday.

NCAA Football: South Florida at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

USF quarterback Quinton Flowers broke his own program record with 516 yards of total offense as he and his Bulls cruised past UConn with a 37-20 victory at Pratt and Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, CT on Saturday.

"I’m just proud to see us bounce back after last week," head coach Charlie Strong said afterwards.

First Quarter

Coming off its first loss in over a year, the USF (8-1, 4-1 AAC) offense took control of the contest early and never relinquished its group over the Huskies (3-6, 2-4 AAC).

With the two teams trading punts to begin the contest, the Bulls struck first midway through the first quarter when D'Ernest Johnson capped a seven play, 69-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give the visitors an early 7-0 advantage.

Second Quarter

Having possession at the beginning of the second quarter, the South Florida offense quickly moved the ball downfield with back-to-back bubble screens to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyre McCants. The drive ultimately culminated with a 12-yard Flowers to Mitchell Wilcox touchdown to put them up 14-0.

But Bryant Shirreffs and the UConn offense would respond. The senior Husky QB marched his team down the field on a 12-play, 58-yard drive that resulted in a four-yard TD pass to tight end Tommy Myers to make the game 14-7.

However, a 38-yard Emilio Nadelman field goal put the Green and Gold back up by two scores with a 17-7 lead heading into the locker room.

Third Quarter

Flowers came out the half firing through the air, hooking up with Valdes-Scantling, Temi Alaka, and Darnell Salomon on the opening drive before an easy 25-yard Nadelman field goal made the game 20-7.

On the ensuing UConn series, the USF defense came away with arguably its biggest stop of the afternoon. Devin Abraham snuffed out a Kevin Mensah run on fourth and one to force a turnover on downs and put the ball back into the hands of Quinton Flowers.

And capitalize on the opportunity they did as a 10 play, 76 yard drive would end with an 11-yard touchdown pass to D'Ernest Johnson to extend the lead to 27-7.

Receiving the ball on their own five just before the end of the quarter, the #BayMade product Valdes-Scantling caught a Flowers pass, shed a tackle, and sprinted 95-yards up the sideline for another USF score to make the game 34-7 heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

The Huskies wouldn't go down quietly as a 23-yard Mensah touchdown run would cut the USF lead down to 20 with them trailing 34-14.

But unlike the previous time USF had a 34-14 lead in the fourth quarter, the offense stayed aggressive. A combination of Flowers runs and passes moved them into Husky territory while burning over three minutes of gametime. The drive ended with a 51-yard Nadelman field goal, a career high for the Miami native to extend their lead to 37-14.

In late for Shirreffs (who got taken out of the game after being blown up by Vincent Jackson Jr. on a targeting call), backup UConn David Pindell would orchestrate one final touchdown drive for UConn to make the ballgame 37-20 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

That would be all as the Bulls held possession for nearly the remainder of the quarter to get back into the win column heading into next week's open date.

Notable Stats:

-Running for 131 yards on the ground, Flowers also threw for a career high 385 yards on 24-of-37 attempts. He came just 24 yards shy of SUPER BOWL CHAMPION B.J. Daniels' record of 409. He would've gotten the record had it not been for a handful of dropped passes that plagued the USF offense.

-Valdes-Scantling had his second straight 100+ yard day, catching six passes for 152 yards. McCants followed him with 89 yards on six receptions.

-The Bulls put up over 602 yards as an offense on 7.8 yards per play. Their 5.4 yards per rush on 217 yards was leaps and bounds better than their 2.5 ypp performance versus Houston last week.

-Defensively, Jaymon Thomas led with a career high ten tackles. Auggie Sanchez had three, bringing him to within three more tackles of tying former Bull linebacker Kawika Mitchell for the all-time school record at 367.

-The Bulls were in the Husky backfield early and often, coming away with eight tackles for loss and four sacks on the aftenoon.

USF will have an open date next week before returning home on November 16 for a Thursday night showdown versus Tulsa on ESPN.