What a wild game in Legion Field on Thursday between the South Florida Bulls and the South Carolina Gamecocks. It took overtime for the Bulls to outlast the Gamecocks 46-39 in the Birmingham Bowl. But this game was all over the place.
The win for the Bulls moved the record to 11-2, which is the best record ever for the program. It was also their first bowl win since 2010.
USF came out the gates on fire, took a fast 15-0 lead, and dominated the first half going into half time with a rather commanding 29-14 lead. The second half was just filled with mayhem. After a South Carolina TD with 11:55 left in the 3rd quarter cut the lead to eight, USF, would nail a chip shot field goal to go up by 11. On the next possession, Gamecock freshman QB Jake Bentley would throw a pick six to Tajee Fullwood, then all of a sudden after the extra point the Bulls held an 18 point lead 39-21.
What was kind of left unnoticed because of the score, was the South Carolina defense shutting down the South Florida offense the entire second half. After a Gamecock field goal towards the end of the third quarter made it 39-24, Bentley would throw a TD pass to make it 39-31 with 9:41 left in the 4th. Then after shutting out a few Bulls offensive possessions, a punt return would put the Gamecocks at the 2 yard line, where A.J. Turner would punch it in from 1 yard out. Bentley would hit Hayden Hurst the tight end to execute the 2 point conversion to tie the score at 39.
After failing to convert on third down on their own 39, USF, would allow the time to expire and go to overtime.
In OT, Quinton Flowers would hit Elkanah Dillion, after Flowers evaded the pressure for the TD. The extra point gave the Bulls the 46-39 lead. South Carolina would get the ball back in overtime with the chance to tie. A face mask penalty, turned a potential huge loss on third down into a first down at the 12. After three plays, on 4th down Bentley would face pressure and would fumble recovered by USF ending the game and giving the Birmingham Bowl to the Bulls.
Quinton Flowers would win player of the game with 261 yards passing and 2 TDs and 105 yards on the ground with 3 TDs. The Bulls never trailed in this game.
Charlie Strong probably had a good time watching this game, especially Flowers, who clearly is one of the more talented players no one quite knows about in the country.