Bulls On Parade in Tampa in 38-22 Victory Over East Carolina
Quinton Flowers passed for 250 yards and three touchdowns and Marlon Mack ran for 152 yards and a pair of scores to lead South Florida to a convincing 38-22 victory over ECU who is on their first four game losing streak in four years.
Flowers completed 21 of 29 passes to seven different receivers including seven to Rodney Adams who scored a touchdown and five receptions from D’Earnest Johnson who nabbed a pair of scores. It was the Bull’s fifth win of the season against just one loss.
ECU backup quarterback Gardner Minshew came on in the second half to connect on 21 of 33 for 220 yards and one touchdown in relief of Philip Nelson who went out after a hit to the head on a sack for the second straight week. Nelson hit just 12 of 23 for 88 yards. James Summers ran 18 times for 114 yards and Zay Jones had another solid day with 18 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown in a losing cause for the Pirates.
Scottie Montgomery took a lot of positives from the game and credited Minshew with a strong showing in relief of Nelson.
“He worked as well as he could. I thought he had some good opportunities early in the game. I didn’t think Phil (Nelson) got started particularly well. He didn’t have a week of work, he had one day of work this week, but he looked good yesterday so we felt good about him, Montgomery stated, "We wanted to go into the second half and give him a chance and if he didn’t look like we though he could look then we were going to go with Minshew and it was only because we thought that he got banged and dinged up early in the game. But Gardner did a good job when he went in and he gave us a chance to win the game."
A close play here and there that could have gone either way might have made a difference but ECU played a pretty good brand of football for most of the day and that gives Montgomery something to build on. The Pirates had several players banged up in the game including Yiannis Bowden, Justin Sandifer, Philip Nelson and even James Summers played a little banged up but ECU put on a gallant effort and probably moved closer to turning the corner in the process.
“They battled the whole day despite all the things they had to go through, the week, practice, everything - they came down here and battled their tails off,” Montgomery said, “I thought there were some close situations where we could have got the upper hand, said the first year ECU head coach, "We’ve got a nasty taste in our mouth. Of course you don’t like the way this feels. We’ve felt like this too long, but this is one of those games where we knew it was going to be a fight the whole game and our guys came out and battled with everything they had.”
ECU(2-4/0-2 AAC) got the football first in the game and delivered a heavy dose of James Summers at running back to set up a 40-yard Davis Plowman field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 9:31 to go in the first quarter.
A targeting penalty and subsequent ejection at the one-yard line on ECU defensive back Colby Gore on a helmet to helmet hit to Rodney Adams led to USF’s first touchdown of the day. The Bulls took the lead at 7-3 when D’Earnest Johnson took a pass from Quinton Flowers in the right flat and he scampered in for the 6-yard score.
"We lost some guys early that we felt like were critical in the game. Losing Colby Gore when we lost him I think was critical. It put us in a situation where some of our coverage and one on on one was tough."
Flowers used his legs for over fifty yards of rushing in a Bulls drive that led to a 26-yard Emili Nadelman field goal and a 10-3 lead with 9:26 to go before intermission.
Four minutes later, Davis Plowman’s 49-yard field goal helped East Carolina shrink the USF lead to 10-6.
But after a stalled ECU drive and a Plowman field goal attempt that clanked off the right upright, Flowers led USF on a six-play 75-yard drive where he found Mitch Wilcox for 41-yards into the ECU redone. Flowers eventually found the Junkyard Dog (Johnson) again for an 11-yard touchdown and Nadleman’s PAT gave the Bulls a commanding 17-6 cushion at halftime.
The Bulls rolled up 286 yards of total offense in the first half including 190 yards on the ground despite having the football just over twelve minutes in the half. ECU had success in the running game to the tune of 143 yards on the ground (88 from James Summers) in the first two quarters for their best rushing effort of the season.
Marlon Mack got the Bulls on the scoreboard on a one-yard run midway into the third quarter to cap a ten-play 53-yard drive that extended South Florida’s lead to 24-6.
After Philip Nelson went down due to his second hard hit to the head in two weeks, Gardner Minshew came in off the bench to lead ECU on a eight-play 75 yard drive. Minshew found Deondre Farrier for 46 yards and subsequently found Zay Jones for a one-yard touchdown that trimmed the USF lead to 24-13 at the 5:27 mark in the third stanza.
Plowman nailed a 31-yard field goal to cut the lead to 24-16 with 11:49 remaining. Then Menshew went to work again leading ECU on a eight play 66-yard drive that culminated in three James Summers runs and a touchdown at the end. With the score 24-22, ECU went for two and Anthony Scott’s catch in the end zone was out of bounds with just under seven minutes to go.
It didn’t take long for USF to strike again when three plays later, Flowers found Rodney Adams for a 62-yard touchdown to extend the lead to nine. On fourth down on the next ECU drive, Nigel Harris intercepted Minshew’s pass to halt the Pirate threat. Then Marlon Mack put the icing on the cake with a nine and an eight-yard run for a touchdown as USF pulled away 38-22 at the end.