Time of Possession: USF- 35:11 Navy- 24:49
Time of Game: 3 Hours, 28 minutes
Announced Attendance: 45,194
Random Factoids from game: Torrential downpour throughout majority of the game. South Florida remains undefeated in Greenville, NC.
-Quinton Flowers: 12/23, 200 yards, 2 TDs. 79 yards rushing.
-Rodney Adams: 3 rec, 95 yards, 1 TD. Scored go-ahead sixty-seven yard TD with 4:40 left in game.
-Marlon Mack: 27 carries, 117 yards. Fifth 100+ rushing game of the season. Moved into fifth on USF’s all-time rushing list with 1,876 yards.
-Sean Price: 4 rec, 56 yards, 1 TD.
-Bull Sharks: 13 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 safety throughout game. 11th in the nation in TFL.
-Auggie Sanchez: 11 tackles, 3 TFL
-Nigel Harris: 10 tackles, 1.5 TFL, assisted sack.
-Emilio Nadelman: 2/3 FGs
-ECU QB James Summers: 14/22, 200 total yards, 2 rushing TDs.
-ECU WR Bryce Williams: 6 rec, 85 yards.
-ECU LB Zeek Bigger: 12 tackles
-ECU Montese Overton: 9 tackles, 1 TFL
In a rain soaked Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, South Florida was able to make enough plays at the right times to escape Greenville with a 22-17 victory over divisional foe East Carolina. With now victories, the Bulls have achieved their highest win total in the Willie Taggart era and the highest for the program in a single season since 2011 during Skip Holtz’s tenure.
“On the road, lead changes, they could have easily given up, but those guys stuck together and made the plays when the plays needed to be made,” Taggart said after the critical road victory. “We’re playing in November, playing for something that’s really big. I’m really proud of these guys and I’m glad we get to come back home in front of our fans.”
South Florida dominated East Carolina on both sides of the football for the majority of the first half. The Bulls scored first late in the opening quarter when Pirate quarterback James Summers was penalized for intentional grounding while throwing out of his own endzone resulting in a safety. The Bulls offense would then extend the lead to 9-0 early in the second quarter thanks to a sixteen yard Quinton Flowers to Sean Price touchdown pass. “Sean has been making plays like that for us all year,” Taggart said. “Him being a senior and being the guy that he is, that’s what we expect from him.”
The Bulls would have an opportunity on the ensuing drive to put the game out of reach heading into the half, but didn’t capitalize. A goal line Marlon Mack touchdown run was called back for holding, which would eventually lead the struggling Emilio Nadelman shanking a chip-shot field goal that would have put the Bulls up by 12. The Pirates were able to seize momentum later in the quarter, capitalizing on a USF fumble on their own seven yard line to set up a touchdown to get on the board for the first time in the contest.
After going into the half up 12-7, the majority of the second half was a back and forth affair amidst sloppy play. James Summers was able to find the endzone again to give ECU a 14-12 lead, only for another Nadelman FG to put them back up by one. After the Pirates re-took the lead on a FG early in the fourth quarter, Willie Taggart’s guys needed to conduct one more scoring drive to keep their conference and bowl hopes alive. That is exactly what they got in the form of a sixty-seven touchdown reception from the red hot Rodney Adams to give the Bulls the go-ahead score. Tom Allen’s Bull Shark defense was then able to snuff out James Summers and ECU’s ensuing comeback attempt to finally seal the victory. “If you want to win a championship, this is what champions do,” Taggart said. “They come through and they make the plays that needed to be made.”
Now sitting in sole possession of second place in the AAC East, South Florida will play their most meaningful home game in recent memory when they host the stingy defense of Matt Rhule and his #22 Temple Owls.