The Bulls made history in Birmingham today.
After finishing the regular season with a program high 10th win over in-state rival UCF, head coach Willie Taggart left the Bulls to take the same position with the University of Oregon. Losing Taggart just weeks before a bowl game left the Bulls surrounded in a cloud of uncertainty and questions; however, the players stayed focused and came out victorious.
“I’ve got to play my heart out for these boys,” said senior wide receiver Rodney Adams, after the game. “This is my last time playing with them… my ankle injury couldn’t stop me, because I wanted to play for these boys. I love them.”
Adams —who played his final game as a Bull— finished the game with seven receptions and 67 yards on nine targets, while also picking up 26 yards on three rushing attempts.
The players rallied around each other to pull out the win over SEC opponent, South Carolina. Continuing the team’s streak of scoring at least 30 points, the Bulls beat the Gamecocks 46-39 in overtime.
The Bulls came out quick and fast, taking a 15 point lead in the first quarter and scoring another 14 in the second. The team’s 29 points in the first half set a record Birmingham Bowl record, while also breaking the total amount of points scored by an individual team.
After the half, the Gamecocks were able to slow down the USF offense; allowing the Bulls to score only 10 points in the second half. South Carolina was able to grind their way back into the game, scoring 25 points in the second half behind the arm of freshman quarterback, Jake Bentley.
For the Bulls, they knew what they had to do to come out of Birmingham with their fifth bowl game victory. The team wanted to be able to send their seniors out with a victory and prove to all of college football that USF is to be taken seriously.
“We were the underdogs coming into this game against an SEC opponent,” said junior linebacker and defensive captain, Auggie Sanchez. “Everybody hyped it up in the media, so that just put fuel to our fire.
I’m sure we’ll still be the underdog, that’s the character of our team. A lot of the guys on our team were underdogs coming into college football. Nobody wanted him [Flowers] to play quarterback, he came here and now everyone is talking about how great he is. I was a two star recruit, I came in as a fullback and no one believed in me either…We’re always going to have that chip on our shoulder and that edge to be great be great because of the disrespect that we have received throughout the course of our careers.”
While the Bulls pulled out the win, junior quarterback and offensive captain Quinton Flowers led the charge and was honored with the MVP award. Flowers finished the night with 261 passing yards and two touchdowns, while completing 23 of his 32 passing attempts. The versatile quarterback was also able to pick up 112 yards on 21 rushing attempts, setting a new Birmingham Bowl record with three rushing touchdowns.
“A lot of people didn’t give me a chance coming out of high school,” said Flowers after the game. “Guys like Tajee Fullwood and Marlon Mack, Rodney Adams, they believed in me. I felt that it was the time. I’ve been stepping up all year and this team needed me. Tajee came to me and said ‘We’re out here, do your part.’ That meant a lot from him, knowing that he believed in me, so I went out and did what I normally do.”