If USF fans had issues with the 16-0 early deficit in the opener last week with San Jose State before winning, their home game Saturday with Stony Brook will only intensify the their angst.
The Bulls opening at home under new coach Charlie Strong, once again got little going on offense early, but this time, against an FCS opponent, they didn’t respond in the second quarter to break the game open like last week.
Stony Brook blocked a punt (the second straight week with a Bulls special teams gaffe) and picked this one up and ran it in for an early 7-0 lead.
USF got on the board when RB Darius Tice capped a 73 yard drive with a one yard plunge to tie the game at 7. However, that was it for the Bulls offense in the first half and when the visiting Seawolves added a field goal, they shockingly led 10-7 at the half.
Still trailing the game 10-7, the Bulls all-everything QB Quinton Flowers got them in the end zone with a 6 yard TD pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and brief exhale.
Only to have Stony Brook answer later in the 4th with a 54 yard TD run by Stacey Bedell to re-tie the game at 17-17.
Flowers, who is the reigning AAC Offensive Player of the Year on offense, then tossed a great 65 yard pass to Tyre McCants and the Bulls led again for good, by a touchdown at 24-17.
WOW! Flowers to McCants for a 65-yard TD! pic.twitter.com/On1g3aaSfT
— USF Football (@USFFootball) September 2, 2017
Flowers finished 19 of 32 for 186 yards and the two scores and ran for an additional 70 yards, as well.
Tice finished off a 94 yard rushing day, himself, and clinching the win with his second TD of the game from 14 yards out with 1:40 remaining, as USF escaped 31-17.
The Bulls will take the two victories, but clearly the level of play for a team expected to win the conference has been poor in the first half. And, more glaringly, against two easy opponents.
The strength of opposition will step up next Friday, when USF welcomes former Bucs and Bears NFL head coach Lovie Smith and his Illinois Fighting Illini in a Friday night game.