EAST HARTFORD - South Florida coach Charlie Strong doesn't believe his quarterback gets enough national attention.
Quinton Flowers’ performance Saturday would be hard to ignore. The senior threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 131 yards as USF bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 37-20 win over UConn.
Flowers’ 516 total yards are program record for the Bulls (8-1, 5-1 American Athletic Conference).
“I just don't think he gets all the credit that he deserves,” Strong said. “Look at tonight; look what he did. It's kind of like it gets hidden because everyone expects that from him all the time.”
Flowers hit receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling six times for 152 yards and a 95-yard touchdown.
The senior quarterback's statistics would have been better, but his receivers dropped several passes, including one by Valdes-Scantling that would have gone for a 35-yard touchdown.
Flowers came back to him on the first play of the next drive. Valdes-Scantling caught an out pattern at the South Florida 15-yard line and raced past UConn defenders down the right sideline for the score.
“Coach still believed in me, the quarterback still believed in me and said let's give you another shot,” Valdes-Scantling said. “He came right back to me and I made a play.”
Bryant Shirreffs threw for 133 yards and a touchdown for UConn (3-6, 2-4), before leaving the game with a concussion early in the fourth quarter. UConn freshman running back Kevin Mensah had 95 yards rushing, including a 23-yard touchdown run.
The game originally was scheduled for Sept. 9, but postponed so the Bulls would not be travelling during the approach of Hurricane Irma.
USF: Flowers is responsible for 100 career touchdowns (61 passing, 39 rushing), including 24 this season (15 passing, nine rushing). He becomes the seventh FBS player to pass for more than 7,000 yards and rush for 3,000, and the fourth player in AAC history to have a 500-yard day.
“When I first committed to the University of South Florida, this school was 2-8,” Flowers said. “I always had dream, go to the school and change the program and I'm here and I'm doing it now.”
UConn: The Huskies did nothing to improve their status as one of the nation's worst defensive teams. UConn came in giving up an average of more than 548 yards a game. That includes just under 378 yards through the air, more than any other FBS team. They would have to win out to become bowl eligible.
“I thought our matchups going into the game were a little bit better, because they run the ball,” said UConn coach Randy Edsall. “And then the second half they come out and they started throwing it. And that's been a little bit of a problem for us.”
USF kicker Emilio Nadelman hit field goals from 38, 25 and 51 yards, a career long, without a miss. He has made 25 of his last 28 kick attempts.
USF defensive back Deatrick Nichols picked off a second-quarter pass at the South Florida 11-yard line that went through the hands of wide receiver Aaron McLean. It was the 17th interception this season for the Bulls, who came into the game leading the nation in that category.
Shirreffs rolled out and hit tight end Tommy Myers on a fourth down from the 2-yard line in the second quarter for UConn's first score. It was just the second touchdown for a UConn tight end this season, and Myers’ first since September, 2015. It was the final game at home for the senior, whose father also played football at UConn and whose mother played basketball at the school.
South Florida: The Bulls host Tulsa on Nov. 16, before their showdown on Nov. 24 with rival UCF. USF controls its own fate in the race for the conference championship.
UConn: The Huskies travel to face No. 15 UCF next Saturday, before heading to Fenway Park for a game with regional rival Boston College.