Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF: Bulls Extend Nation-Leading Streak in Win Over ECU

TAMPA –  USF extended all three of its nation-leading offensive streaks Saturday in a 38-22 homecoming win over East Carolina at Raymond James Stadium.

“It was a great win for our ball club and a great win for our alumni that are back here this weekend for homecoming. It’s great for our guys to go out and give everyone the victory they wanted,” said head coach Willie Taggart.

USF (5-1, 2-0) scored at least 35 points for the 10th straight time after putting a close game away with 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. With 556 total yards, the Bulls passed the 440-yard mark for the 10th consecutive game. USF rushed for a season-high 306 yards and passed the 200-yard rushing mark for the 11th consecutive game.

Clinging to a 24-22 lead, Rodney Adams gave the Bulls breathing room with a 62-yard touchdown catch with 6:06 to play. The senior from St. Petersburg posted his fourth-career 100-yard receiving game with 113 yards on seven catches and moved into third on USF’s career receiving yardage charts and ninth in career receptions.

Adams has scored at least one touchdown in 12 of his last 15 games with 18 total in that stretch (12 receiving, 5 rushing and 1 kickoff return).

“That was just fun. You have to step up and plays need to be made for your team. It was one of those times again,” Adams said.

USF career rushing king Marlon Mack posted his school record 16th 100-yard rushing game with 152 yards on 18 carries. Mack tied B.J. Daniels for the USF career rushing touchdown lead with 25 on a 9-yard score that put the game away with 3:04 remaining.

USF ended up with a pair of 100-yard rushers for just the seventh time in program history. Quarterback Quinton Flowers rushed for 115 yards and was efficient through the air, completing 21 of 29 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns, two to running back D’Ernest Johnson.

Both of Johnson’s TD catches came in the opening half, and his second helped spot USF a 17-6 lead with 34 seconds to go before the break. Johnson has scored in every game this season and has nine total touchdowns scored to lead the team.

USF set the tone by rushing for 190 yards in the opening half for an average of 8.6 yards per attempt. Mack was on the verge of extending his 100-yard rushing game total with 94 yards on eight first-half carries.

USF extended its lead to 24-6 with a 1-yard touchdown run by Mack with 7:44 left in the third quarter before ECU stormed back. Led by backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, the Pirates scored 16 unanswered points, but failed to tie the game on a two-point conversion attempt with 6:58 to go.

USF needed just three plays and 52 seconds to take the momentum back. Flowers threw a strike over the middle to Adams and the 62-yard scoring play helped boost the Bulls’ lead to 31-22.

Senior linebacker Nigel Harris followed with a 34-yard interception return that set up Mack’s 9-yard touchdown run to cap off the scoring.

Senior safety Nate Godwin led the way with 10 tackles (nine solo) and posted one of USF’s seven tackles for loss. Deatrick Nichols  racked up seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, while Bruce Hector produced half of USF’s three sacks.

“I thought this ballgame showed a lot of character in our football team. We let East Carolina get back in it and we didn’t flinch. Our guys made plays when we needed a play. That was great to see out of our football team,” added Taggart.

USF continues conference play with a test against UConn on Saturday, Oct. 15 at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

GAME NOTES:  USF extended its nation-leading streak to 11 games with at least 200 rushing yards. The Bulls rushed for 190 in the opening half and finished with a season-high 306 yards….USF won its program-record sixth straight conference game, a streak dating to the 2015 season, and its eighth straight game against American Athletic Conference East Division opponents…Overall, USF has won 12 of its last 15 games. USF has won eight of its last 10 home games. USF moved to 6-1 all-time against East Carolina….For the seventh time in program history, USF had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game,runnuing back Marlon Mack (18 carries for 152 yards) and QB Quinton Flowers (16 carries for 115 yards).