Birmingham Bowl score: South Florida survives South Carolina comeback in OT
The Bulls took down the Gamecocks, which showed tremendous resilience late
South Florida jumped out to a 15-point lead and looked like it would roll past South Carolina in Thursday's Birmingham Bowl, but the Gamecocks clawed back to force overtime where the Bulls eventually prevailed 46-39.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers had a huge game in leading the Bulls to victory with 366 total yards of offense (261 passing, 105 rushing) and five total touchdowns (three rushing). Flowers' final touchdown pass was the game-winner on the opening play of South Florida's overtime period as he connected with Brandon Behr for a 25-yard score.
South Carolina trailed by 15 at the half but fought back behind an excellent performance from freshman quarterback Jake Bentley. The Gamecocks' young signal caller completed 32-of-43 passes for 390 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in his best game of the season. Bentley played great and got a little help in the form of some good tipped pass luck on his fourth quarter touchdown pass.
The Gamecocks passing attack was great, but their inability to run the ball bit them in the overtime period as the windows closed up on Bentley in the red zone. South Carolina only rushed for 91 yards on 34 attempt,s and the Gamecocks' overtime effort ended with a sack of Bentley on a fourth-down play-action pass that resulted in a fumble.
The victory wraps up an 11-win season for South Florida as the Bulls begin a transition from the Willie Taggart era to new coach Charlie Strong. The offensive performance was impressive, and with Flowers back for his senior season in 2017, the Bulls will have high expectations for the offense.
In Strong's first season, USF will hope to see defensive improvement while having its sights set on an AAC title and possibly a Group of Five bid to the New Year's Six.
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