Jacksonville Sports Day

USF Racks Up 680 Yards, Rolls Past Illinois, 47-23

TAMPA –  Explosive USF racked up 680 yards of offense – a school record against an FBS opponent – and rolled to its first-ever win over a Big Ten foe with a 47-23 victory over Illinois on Friday night.

USF (3-0) finished with the second-most yards in program history and gained 376 yards on the ground as the program logged three 100-yard rushers for the second time in its 21-year history.

“You look at our offense, it’s really explosive if you look at the yards, right (around) 700 and we had three 100-yard rushers… Then on defense, you had the three turnovers and then we were able to get some stops. We gave up some runs in the second half there late. We just know this, we can still improve,” said head coach Charlie Strong.

Heisman hopeful Quinton Flowers rushed for a game-high 106 yards and tied his career high with four touchdown passes during his 386-yard night on a primetime ESPN broadcast.

Flowers added a touchdown run to tie Marlon Mack for the USF career record of 32. His four touchdown passes on the night moved his career total to 54, good for second all-time at USF.

Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson  both recorded their second career 100-yard rushing games with 105 and 101 yards, respectively.

Tice’s rushing touchdown and Johnson’s scoring catch helped USF extended its nation-leading streak of 30-plus point games to 20. The 22nd-ranked Bulls accomplished the feat against an Illinois defense that was giving up an average of just 14 points.

“That’s the numbers you like to see. That’s going to be hard each and every week to come out and produce numbers like that,” Strong added. “But as long as you can get drives and drives can continue, we can get first downs and first downs, and all the sudden there’s a big play. Q can throw the ball over the top and the thing he does with his running ability, you can’t leave your coverage. His eyes are always down the field and he’s always looking for a throw.”

Marquez Valdes-Scantling had four catches for a career-high 96 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown reception. Deangelo Antoine set a career high with 93 receiving yards, including his first-career TD catch from 39 yards out.

USF’s defense collected at least two takeaways for the third straight game with interceptions by Ronnie Hoggins, Tajee Fullwoo and Keirston Johnson. The Bulls now have eight interceptions on the season. USF held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing for the second straight game. Illinois (2-1) finished with 67 rushing yards on 15 carries.

USF took a commanding 23-9 lead into halftime after outrushing the Illini, 239-64, and totaling 384 total yards in the first two quarters.

USF’s rushing attack gained nearly 100 yards in the first seven minutes, but the Bulls got on the scoreboard first with Flowers’ arm. Recognizing the blitz, Flowers rolled to his right and threw a perfect 39-yard strike to Antoine that gave USF a 6-0 lead with 8:20 left in the first quarter.

Hoggins’ 12-yard interception return to the Illini 16 set up one more Bulls score in the opening quarter. Four plays later, Emilio Nadelman’s 29-yard field goal extended the lead to 9-2 with 50 seconds left in the quarter.

Tice helped pad the lead to 16-2 with a 10-yard touchdown run that capped off an eight-play, 87-yard drive with 9:12 to go in the second quarter. Flowers grabbed a share of USF’s career rushing touchdown record with a 6-yard score as time expired in the half.

USF extended its nation-leading streak of 30-plus point games with 5:08 left in the third quarter. Flowers took sole possession of second place on USF’s career TD pass list with a 17-yard toss to D’Ernest Johnson.

Flowers tied his career high of four TD passes with a 13-yard strike to Tyre McCants with 10:47 remaining. The senior moved past Matt Grothe (52) and B.J. Daniels (52) on the USF career charts.

“Energy of the whole entire defense is different. It’s a will to win. I feel we’ve got a lot more discipline and a lot more want-to. We want to make tackles, we want to make plays; not only just for the defense, but for the entire team,” said Fullwood on the defense’s mindset this season.

The Bulls are back at home for their conference opener against Temple on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. (TV: ESPN).

GAME NOTES: USF racked up 680 yards of offense, its most against an FBS opponent, good for second in the school’s single-game history chart…Flowers tied his career high with four touchdown passes and rushed for a touchdown to tie Marlon Mack’s USF career record of 32….USF Athletics provided free admission to all Florida high school football teams and their coaches. A total of 87 teams (3,427 players) were in attendance on #BayMade Youth Football Night….USF distributed 2,154 complimentary tickets to first responders and their families….USF gave away #FloridaStrong T-shirts to the first 4,000 students in attendance. The specially created T-shirt is a show of unity among all Florida residents following Hurricane Irma.

 

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