South Florida Bulls Roll Past Illinois

In a game mired by penalties and miscues, the South Florida Bulls settled down and defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini 47-23.

Just a few days after one of the biggest hurricanes on record rolled through the state of Florida, the South Florida Bulls and the neighboring Tampa Bay community looked to resume a sense of normalcy. Hurricane Irma forced South Florida to postpone their last game at UConn last week. While that game has been rescheduled, it has ultimately cost the Bulls a home non-conference game.

The Bulls’ first-quarter woes continued with having a field goal and an extra point each blocked, the later returned by Illinois for 2 points after South Florida scored on a 39-yard pass from Quinton Flowers to Deange Antoine. They did manage to make a 29-yard field goal late in the quarter. In the second quarter, the Bulls added another score on a 10 yard run by Darius Tice. Illinois answered with their only sustained drive of the half and scored on a 45-yard run by Mike Epstein. The Bulls added a touchdown on a shifty 6-yard scramble by Quinton Flowers as time expired in the half. The more talented Bulls pulled away in the second half behind the arm and legs of Flowers with 3rd quarter scores on two separate 17-yard passes and in the 4th quarter, he added a 13-yard touchdown pass.

In the third quarter, redshirt sophomore Jeff George Jr came in for Illinois and looked more poised than starter Chayce Crouch. George hit for a 21-yard touchdown pass to Epstein in the 4th quarter. Crouch finished 8/18 for 76 yards and an interception while George Jr finished 12/21 for 211 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.

South Florida outgained Illinois 680-354 on offense, the second-highest total in South Florida program history. Flowers finished 15/27 for 280 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. He also ran the ball 25 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Darius Tice ran it 12 times for 105 yards and a touchdown while D’Ernest Johnson had 17 carries for 101 yards.

Penalties dominated this game. In each quarter of the first half, the Bulls had 7 penalties and the teams combined for 26 penalties for 225 yards by halftime. It wasn’t until 3 minutes left in the first half that Illinois had more yards on offense than penalty yards. Both teams settled down in the second half and ended up with a combined 31 penalties for 278 yards. The FBS record for penalties is 36, the Division I record is 39, and the NCAA record is 42.

South Florida hosts Temple next Thursday, September 21st at 7:30 pm on ESPN. Illinois has a bye week before opening conference play.

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