Flowers, Adams deliver ECU sequel
With the afternoon shadows growing over Raymond James Stadium, and USF's momentum reserves seemingly as empty as the upper deck, the Bulls got a splash play.
Not to mention a sequel.
If Quinton Flowers' 62-yard TD pass to Rodney Adams in the waning minutes of Saturday's 38-22 Bulls triumph appeared painfully familiar to East Carolina fans, it should've.
Eleven months before, with the Pirates nursing a two-point lead on a chilly, rainy night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Flowers found Adams quarantined on the right sideline for a 67-yard TD with 4:14 to play, clinching a 22-17 Bulls triumph.
On Saturday, the pattern was different -- a simple post in a four-vertical formation -- but the ramifications weren't. Only three plays before, with 6:58 remaining, Pirates TB James Summers had scored on a 3-yard run to cut ECU's deficit to 24-22. The two-point try failed.
"That was funny because (Flowers) and I were just talking about that," Adams said moments after the game. "You just have to step up when plays needed to be made for your team, and it was just one of those times again."
On a shaky afternoon overall for the Bulls offense, Adams finished with seven catches for 113 yards, doing extensive damage on screens. In his last two games against ECU, he has totaled 11 catches for 208 yards and a pair of TDs.
"Not many can run with (Adams)," Bulls coach Willie Taggart said. "And whenever you can get him the ball where he can run with it, great things happen for us."
MORE MACK: USF all-time rushing leader Marlon Mack (152 yards Saturday) now has 2,907 yards for his career. With 41 more, he overtakes Tim Tebow for 20th place on Florida's all-time Division I list.
Additionally, Mack's two rushing TDs Saturday give him 25, tying him with B.J. Daniels for the Bulls' all-time lead. He now has 16 career 100-yard games, extending his own school record.
INJURY UPDATE: CB Ronnie Hoggins exited in the first half with what Taggart said was nagging calf pain. Adams took a helmet shot to his right elbow and had ice on it during postgame interviews, but it was hardly the most vicious blow he received Saturday.
That occurred when he took a shot from Pirates CB Colby Gore over the middle on a first-quarter post route near the ECU goal line. Gore was ejected for targeting.
In terms of the hardest hits he has sustained, Adams ranked it No. 1. "It was a shock more than like, an 'ouch' hit," he said. "I had to make sure I was still alive."
ODDS AND ENDS: USF, which finished with 306 rushing yards, has run for 200 or more 11 games in a row -- the longest current streak in the nation. The Bulls are 14-4 in the Taggart era when they run for at least 200. ... USF's streak of 10 consecutive games with at least 440 total yards (it had 556) also leads the nation. ... RB D'Ernest Johnson, who had two TD receptions Saturday, has scored a TD in each of USF’s six games and leads the Bulls with nine overall (four rushing, four receiving, one punt return). Matt Grothe holds the USF record with TDs in eight consecutive games. ... The Bulls haven't won five games this early in a season since 2009.
AUDIBLE: "I thought the old man did great. ... That's two weeks in a row where he's come in and made plays for us. I love Johnny Ward to death. You want to know the character of our football team, you look at a guy like Johnny Ward who played a lot of football for us here and had his position taken. He could've easily just went in a shell and he didn't." -- Taggart on the senior cornerback, who had a pick-six at Cincinnati and finished with two tackles and a pass breakup Saturday.