The No. 2 nationally ranked Florida State University Seminoles might be worried about its Sept. 24 matchup because the USF Bulls are on a roll.
The Bulls met the Northern Illinois Huskies and trampled them to the tune of a 48-17 score Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bulls opened the game with an unsuccessful drive, but the floodgates quickly opened on their second attempt as Rodney Adams ran for an 11-yard touchdown. On the next drive, Quinton Flowers threw a 73-yard touchdown to Ryeshene Bronson. The pass was the longest touchdown pass of the Bulls’ quarterback’s career.
55 seconds into the second quarter, the Bulls were unable to score a touchdown but, instead, settled for a 31-yard field goal by Emilio Nadelman. That brought the score to 17-0. That lead continued to grow through the first half with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Flowers to Rodney Adams and once more with a second field goal from Nadelman. The Huskies finally got on the board when Aregero Turner rushed into the endzone for a 4-yard touchdown.
At halftime the Bulls led 27-7 and had totalled 370 offensive yards; comparatively, Northern Illinois had just 163 yards.
The second half started with a scoring drought that lasted almost seven minutes. However, the drought ended when Flowers threw a 13-yard touchdown to D’Earnest Johnson. With 7:43 left in the quarter, Drew Hare, the starting quarterback for the Huskies, left the game with an injury. Hare’s backup, Ryan Graham, stepped in and took over for the injured playmaker.
Ending on an unsuccessful drive, the Huskies paved the way for a 6-yard touchdown pass from Flowers to Chris Barr. This, along with making the score 41-7, marked Flowers’ fourth touchdown pass, a career high for the junior.
One minute and 29 seconds into the fourth quarter, Darius Tice ran 11 yards for the Bulls’ final successful scoring drive. As for the Huskies, they weren’t done scoring just yet. Graham threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Turner with 10:09 left in the game, while the final score change came via a 22-yard field goal from Christian Hagan seven minutes later.
Flowers completed 21 of his 33 pass attempts in the game. He also rushed the ball 11 times, for a total of 53 yards gained. This combined to make a total of 403 yards for the quarterback — a career high.
On the defensive end, middle linebacker Auggie Sanchez led the Bulls with 13 tackles and one sack.
The stadium was alive with over 7,000 students, a record since 2012. Students covered in green and gold created an atmosphere of deafening support. The increase of students was a welcomed sight for the team.
“Not only do they show up, they show out,” said Coach Taggart. After the game, the coach continuously beamed when discussing the turnout.
During the post-game interview, Taggart assured that this team had not yet peaked.
“There’s still a lot of room for improvement,” he said.
The primary concern was the 77 yards lost via eight penalties. When asked about his quarterback’s performance, Taggart said that “he could have played better than he had.”
Flowers echoed those statements in his post-game interview. He joked that 400 yards wasn’t enough and that he won’t have “enough” until he reaches 900 yards and begins averaging 60 points a game.
“We [are] trying to change this program,” Flowers proclaimed. The Bulls are building a new identity based on a Gulf Coast offense and bull shark defense.
“You can’t swim in the Gulf Coast unless you’re a bull shark,” said Taggart. He was pleased with the teamwork of the offense and added that the Bulls played with a lot of “physicality and fire.”
He continued by agreeing with a media member that this is the most productive offense that he’d been around.
“And it’s fun, too,” Taggart admitted.
“It’s even more fun after the past two years here when we only had an ‘off.’ We didn’t have an offense. We were just off. It’s good now that our offense is rolling. [It] gets everyone excited.”
After another convincing victory, Taggart was unable to hide his excitement, saying “2-0! It’s been awhile. Climbing is easier than hanging on.”
The next chance for this Bulls team to hang on will be in an away game against the Syracuse Nationals.
“We’re going to enjoy tonight, and we got 24 hours,” Taggart said, not focusing too much on the recent win. “Then we have to get prepared for Syracuse…we got to see if we can take this show on the road.”