TAMPA, Fla. — As the sun sits beyond the horizon, there were some questions that needed to be address by the University of South Florida football squad before the kickoff, Friday night against the United States Naval Academy.
The first question of the night, did the Bulls do enough to overcome the mistakes that plagued the Bulls last week in Philadelphia against Temple University?
Can the defense create a stop against Navy’s offense?
University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart said that he was proud how his team came back from the bitter defeat last week and was able to defeat Navy 52-45, in front of 31,824 fans honoring the service personnel of the United States Armed Forces.
“Great win for our football team. I’m really excited about the way our guys responded after last week,” Taggart said. “We came out and really executed very well offensively.”
If there were any questions about the Gulf Coast Offense, they were erased by the Bulls’ offense in the first quarter.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers and his crew scored four touchdowns against the Navy defense, in the opening frame of the game.
“It just shows you that this team, we’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” Flowers said about his offense come back after last Friday night. “It was a tough loss last week but at the end of the day, we played who was in front of us and we did what we had to do.”
Flowers and Marlon Mack combined once again to provide a one-two punch with the running game. For the third time in their career both players have reached the 100-yard mark together.
Flowers ran for 150 yards and scored two touchdowns and he threw two touchdown passes completing 19-of-29 for the game.
Mack ran the ball for 126 yards and he found the end zone once.
USF running back D’Erne Johnson scored two touchdowns during the game with runs of 23 and 16 yards and running toward a career best 107 yards for the game.
“We all went out there and executed what we had to do,” Johnson said. “The o-line did a great job blocking for us and we saw holes and hit them hard. It’s hard to stop all three of us at the same time.”
It is the first time in University of South Florida’s 20 years of playing football that they had three runners run for 100 yards in the same game.
USF rushed for 412 yards a program record for rushing yardage in a game, the previous record was 377 yards against Florida A&M in 2011. It was the first 400-yard rushing game against Navy since 2002 against Air Force.
The offensive explosion by the USF offense should have helped the USF defense to play the game, relaxed and focused on the executing the defensive game plan.
Once again the missed tackling, the blown pass defense assignments by the USF defense made the game too edgy and too uncomfortable for the Bulls.
Taggart said that he thought that the Bulls defense played well, they had a key stop in the first quarter on a fourth down play but he was not happy toward the end of the game.
“You know I was a little disappointed the way our defense played in the second half,” Taggart said about his defense. “What they did in the first half. It allowed us to get up in the ball game. Whenever you are playing a team like Navy you want them to play from behind and I think our game plan worked out for ourselves.”
Navy’s offense rolled 81 plays into 616 total yards against the USF defense.
Leading the way for the Navy offense, quarterback Will Worth. He scored four touchdowns with runs of 4,1,1 and 2-yards. Worth finished the night running for 129 yards and throwing for career high of 299 yards.
“They still get the W but just the fact that we can play them again. I was proud how the entire offense and defense played in the second half,” Worth said. “We’re going to keep fighting and make sure we just get better and learn from what we did today.”
United States Naval Academy football coach Ken Niumatalolo said after the game that his team ran into a buzz saw and have to give USF credit for being a good football team.
“They just had so many things going for them. We weren’t sur where Flowers hamstring was at but we quickly found out that he was fine,” Niumatalolo said.
“Between him, Mack and Adams it just presented so many problems for us. You have to give them credit, they are a great team and we knew they would be a threat.”
University of South Florida will have a bye week next weekend. The next game for the Bulls will be a road game Saturday, Nov. 12 against the University of Memphis at the Liberty Bowl. Kickoff for the game will be announced at a later date.
Hopefully at the end of that game all of the questions about the University of South Florida football team will have been answered.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation.
I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.