Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF: Bulls Record Six Takeaways in 43-7 Rout of Temple

TAMPA – USF’s relentless defense stole the show on the national stage with six takeaways – one off the school record – as the Bulls rolled to a 43-7 win over Temple behind a dominating defense in the conference opener Thursday night.

“We played a really good opponent in Temple. You look at our performance, when you play with passion and you play with enthusiasm, then that’s the performance you’ll get,” said head coach Charlie Strong. “You look at us on defense, (we had) six turnovers, which is really great. It put our offense in a position to score a lot, even though we didn’t get touchdowns, we got field goals. Then you look at our kicking game, Emilio was 5-of-5.”

USF (4-0) held the Owls to just 85 total yards, marking the fourth-lowest total ever given up in a game by the Bulls and the lowest ever allowed to FBS opponent. Temple (2-2) rushed for minus-4 yards on 33 attempts and had minus-23 rushing yards through three quarters.

“Defense is all about disruption. You have to be able to disrupt the rhythm of an offense… We made up our mind, let’s go pressure the quarterback. Let’s make the quarterback beat us,” Strong added. “Last year, the running back had somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 yards, like 10 yards a carry, so we weren’t going to let them run the football. We were going to load the box.”

The rushing total marked the second-fewest rushing yards given up by USF and the fewest since Rutgers totaled minus-7 yards in 2011.

Deatrick Nichols forced a fumble and intercepted two of USF’s four passes to help bring the Bulls’ nation-leading pick total to 12 on the season. The stellar defensive effort helped the Bulls set a program record with their ninth straight win, dating back to last season.

Nico Sawtelle picked off a pass and recovered a fumble while USF limited Temple to 54 total yards through three quarters. Devin Abraham posted his team-leading interception and totaled one of USF’s five sacks in the rematch with defending conference champion Temple.

USF’s offense generated 312 rushing yards and finished with at least two 100-yard rushers for the second straight game. Darius Tice posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, finishing with 117 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. D’Ernest Johnson also rushed for 100 yards for the second straight game with 106 yards on 24 attempts.

QB Quinton Flowers rushed for two touchdowns and became USF’s career leader with 34, passing former teammate and current Indianapolis Colt Marlon Mack (32).

Emilio Nadelman tied the USF game record with five made field goals and set a new program milestone for points scored by a kicker with 19.

USF took a 20-7 lead into halftime after totaling three takeaways – two interceptions by Nichols and a fumble recovery by Tajee Fullwood.

The Bulls’ defense picked up right where it left off in the first half with Abraham’s team-leading third interception of the season less than two minutes in the second half. Four plays later, Tice ran in his second touchdown from 3 yards out to help extend the lead to 27-7.

On Temple’s next drive, USF scooped up its fifth takeaway when Sawtelle fell on a botched snap. Sawtelle also got his hands on USF’s sixth takeaway with an interception that set up Nadelman’s fourth field goal that pumped the advantage up to 33-7 midway through the third quarter.

USF passed the 40-point mark for the third time this season with Flowers’ 34th-career rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

USF continues its conference run on the road at East Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 30 at noon.

BULLS NOTEBOOK: USF set a new program record with its ninth consecutive win, dating back to last season…USF extended its nation-leading streak to 21 consecutive games with 30-plus points. It marks the fourth-longest streak in the AP Poll era (since 1936). The Bulls are two more games away from the record set by Oregon (23 games, 2011-12). Oklahoma State (2010-12) and Hawaii (2006-07) posted 22 consecutive games with 30-plus points…..USF limited Temple to 85 total yards, which were the fewest yards the Bulls have ever allowed against an FBS opponent…USF has now won 14 of its past 16 home games with 13 wins coming by two touchdowns or more.