USF starts off 1-0 in AAC with win vs Temple

Last season, it was Temple who ran for 319 yards against USF and the AAC title as a result.

On Thursday night however, USF had different plans.

The Bulls' defense shined the most in its AAC conference opener, recording five sacks and six total takeaways in USF’s revenge romp of Temple with a 43-7 win at Raymond James.

With an announced crowd of 24,325 in attendance, cornerback Deatrick Nichols picked off two passes while linebacker Nico Sawtelle and safety Devin Abraham both had an interception and fumble recovery a piece.

To complement the takeaways, the Bulls’ defense didn’t allow the Owls past the 50-yard line until there was six minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“Defense is all about disruption,” Coach Charlie Strong said in the post-game press conference. “We weren’t going to let them run the ball.”

As a unit, the Bulls defense held Temple to 85 total yards of offense and minus-4 rushing yards on 23 carries.

“We were blitzing them and we were making the quarterback feel off balance,” linebacker Auggie Sanchez said. “He didn’t have enough time, so when he did decide to throw the ball we were there and made the plays.”

Leading the way for the rushing threat was running backs Darius Tice (120 yards, two TD) and D’Ernest Johnson (112 yards) who rushed for over 100 yards for the second consecutive game. Flowers shared in the rushing attack, gaining 59 yards on the ground with his own pair of touchdowns.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers set a program record for career rushing touchdowns when he broke off a 22-yard run to find the end zone after dropping his shoulder and flattening a Temple defender. The touchdown put Flowers past former Bull Marlon Mack for the most rushing touchdowns in school history.

Despite USF’s authoritative ground game and defensive effort, the Bulls settled for 5 field goals, 2 of which were the result of failed offensive drives within Temple’s 25-yard line.

“We definitely left a lot of points on the field, but Emilio (Nadelman), our kicker, did an excellent job converting on the field goals,” D’Ernest Johnson said. “We started off slow, with a lot of penalties, but we have got to get better.”

The silver-lining of the Bulls' offensive troubles is that the team was able to show the adjustments made on special teams. Nadelman converted 5-for-5 of his field goal attempts and had no kicks blocked like he did in the Bulls’ first two games.

“We didn’t produce touchdowns, but we produced field goals at least,” Strong said.