Final Score: South Florida (3-3, 1-1) 28 Uconn (3-4, 1-2) 20
Time of Possession: USF- 25:09 Uconn- 34:51
Time of Game: 3 Hours, 15 minutes
Announced Attendance: 31,719
-Quinton Flowers: 11/15, 157 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT. 98 yards rushing.
-Marlon Mack: 13 carries, 113 yards. 3rd straight 100+ yard game. 8th of career.
-Rodney Adams: 5 receptions for 118 yards, 3 TDs (ties single game school record.)
-Jamie Byrd: 9 tackles (2.5 for loss), 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup.
-Uconn QB Bryant Shirreffs: 465 yards of total offense. 1 TD, 1 INT.
-MEM TE Alec Bloom: 5 receptions for 97 yards.
-USF 2/13 on 3rd down. Entered game 124th in 3rd down conversions.
-USF has amounted 1,001 yards on offense in previous two contests.
Random Factoid: South Florida has now beaten Uconn in four consecutive outings.
The Uconn-South Florida rivalry has historically been a downright ugly affair, with games throughout the years seemingly always marked by inclement weather, offensive mishaps, and what team can execute on special teams. So it was uncharacteristic to see both offenses nearly combine for 1,000 yards of total offense on a pleasant fall afternoon in East Hartford as South Florida won their second consecutive game by a score of 28-20.
Coming off an offensive explosion in their Homecoming victory over Syracuse the previous week, it initially seemed that Willie Taggart and the Bulls offense had reverted back to the same conservative, groan inducing play calling that USF fans had become accustomed. Despite picking up early momentum through stopping Uconn on fourth down in their own redzone, the Bulls offense couldn’t capitalize on the momentum created by the defense, punting on the ensuing three drives in the first quarter. USF would find paydirt early in the second quarter as a 44 yard Quinton Flowers touchdown pass to Rodney Adams would give the Bulls an early 7-0 advantage.
After, briefly falling behind 10-7 at the beginning of the third quarter, the Bulls offense kicked into high gear, putting up 21 points and 312 yards in the second half on the way to victory. Similar to the double flea flicker that resulted in a touchdown last week, Taggart reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a jet sweep pitch into a D’Ernest Johnson to Rodney Adams 29 yard touchdown pass that would put the Bulls back on top 14-10. “I call (D’Ernest) the Junkyard Dog. He just does it all for us and he loves doing it,” Taggart said of the versatile running back afterwards. After a Husky field goal, a 15 yard Quinton Flowers QB scamper into the endzone would put the Bulls up by eight heading into the fourth. Finally, another 44 yard Flowers-Adams TD connection late in the fourth would seal the deal. “When adversity hit, we just looked it in the face and said, ‘Bring it on,’” Taggart said. “We kept playing and I’m really proud of our guys.”
Despite giving up a whopping 528 yards of total offense to Bryant Shirreffs and the rest of the Uconn offense, the Bull Sharks imposed their will upon the Husky offensive line, racking up nine tackles for losses and five sacks. Jamie Byrd flew all over the field throughout the contest while Auggie Sanchez once again led the Bulls with 10 tackles. Tom Allen’s defense made key stops and held Uconn off just long enough for their counterparts on offense to get going and create momentum for themselves throughout the second half. “We told our guys earlier in the week that it was going to be a tough ballgame,” Willie Taggart said during the postgame press conference. “It was going to take our best effort in order to win. Whenever we play UConn, it’s always a tough ballgame.”
The past two contests were games Willie Taggart and company absolutely needed to win to keep hopes for a bowl and possible division championship alive. The Bulls have won consecutive games for the first time in two seasons and have something the program has lacked down the stretch for several years now. Momentum. Showing steady improvement, South Florida sits at the halfway point at .500 with a whole new season of opportunities to be had as the players and coaching staff are seemingly hitting their stride at the right time. And with a date with struggling SMU next Saturday, a victory there could propel the Bulls even further.