It’s hard to imagine where USF football would be in 2016 without Quinton Flowers.
Time and time again, the junior quarterback has beaten opponents into submission with an explosive offense that has scored over 40 points in seven of the Bulls’ ten games.
Saturday night at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium against Memphis, Flowers proved himself invaluable once again in USF’s 49-42 win.
Flowers began his record-setting night by opening the scoring with a 49-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Rodney Adams on the first drive of the game for USF (8-2, 5-1).
Following the score, the game quickly turned into a back-and-forth affair that left both defenses gasping for air throughout the contest.
After that opening drive, Flowers would add four more touchdowns and set the conference record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 210. He excelled in the passing game as well, finishing 24-of-29 for 263 yards and the two scores.
“I told (Flowers) he’s got about eight eyes around his head or something because he sees everything,” coach Willie Taggart said. “I mean I don’t know how he sees it. I don’t know how he comes out of some of the stuff he comes out of. I said a couple of weeks ago, he’s like a video game, he’s got the cheat codes.”
If not for the third-year quarterback at the helm of the offense, USF would have stood no chance against a Tigers offense that essentially scored at will on the “Bull Sharks” all night long.
Deadlocked at 42 with fewer than five minutes to go, Flowers and USF were looking to strike for one more score to give the defense a chance to make a stop for the win.
Facing a third-and-eight at the Memphis 41-yard-line, the defense quickly got to Flowers before he could find a target.
But as the elusive quarterback was being dragged to the ground for what seemed like a drive-ending sack, he rifled a desperation throw to Adams, who was alone on the right sideline and burst forward for the first down.
Two plays later, Flowers ran for a 22-yard touchdown to give the Bulls the much-needed lead.
“That guy has freakish abilities,” Memphis coach Mike Norvell said. “We had him on the touchdown play, the last touchdown. Numerous plays we had someone there on him and he finds a way to escape and get out. He’s done that to a lot of people. That doesn’t make it any better for it to happen against us.”
Memphis (6-4, 3-3), which put up 608 yards behind a three-touchdown game from quarterback Riley Ferguson, was within reach until its final play on offense.
However, with the Tigers trailing by seven with a second down and goal at the USF three-yard line and the final minute of the game ticking off the clock, Ferguson’s final three passes to the end zone were all defended by USF defensive back Deatrick Nichols.
Though Nichols escaped with a clear pass interference no-call on fourth and goal, USF held on for the win.
As the Bulls move forward, they will have to keep winning and rely on Temple to lose one of its two remaining games (Tulane, East Carolina) in order to play in the conference championship.
While many Bulls fans may lament USF’s 36-20 loss at Temple that put the Owls in the driver’s seat of the postseason picture, they shouldn’t be quick to forget the player who’s taken them this far.
“I hope the whole country was watching this game tonight, especially the people who vote for awards at the quarterback position,” Taggart said. “(Flowers) is unbelievable. You show me someone better, that’s what I ask.”