by Ben Ennis
BIRMINGHAM, AL. – Many think if your team win in the majority of the major football stat categories, your team wins the game. South Carolina exceeded University of South Florida (USF) in first downs, 27-24; total yards 481-469; total passing yards 390-261; total time of possession 31:51 – 28:03. USF beat South Carolina in an overtime thriller 46-39.
The major stats that favored USF’s win: total rushing yards 280 vs South Carolina 91 and yards per rush 4.3 versus 2.7. And USF recovered three fumbles at the most opportune time versus losing the ball to South Carolina once.
Delving into USF rushing advantage, USF has one of the greatest players in the school’s history – star quarterback Quinton Flowers. Prior to the game, Flowers had already set the school records as the first 2000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher. During this game, Flowers finished with 261 passing yards, 105 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Turning to the game highlights, USF scored the first 15 points in the game and had an 18-point lead going into the third quarter. But, South Carolina regrouped with just 10 minutes left in the game. The Gamecocks’ defense made key stops at the right moment to give the offense an opportunity. South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley got hot and found receivers for two quick touchdowns to erase the third quarter 18-point deficit and force overtime.
But, Flowers threw the winning touchdown pass to receiver Elkanah Dillon on the first play in overtime. Next, USF defense sacked Bentley, who fumbled the ball away to seal the 46-39 win.
Flowers was named the game’s MVP. “Our guys really came through in the end, especially our defense. We’re unbelievably proud of every guy, just how we finished and ended up with 11 wins. It’s just unbelievable,” said Interim head coach T.J. Weist.
Photos by Ben Ennis