GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Quinton Flowers threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and No. 18 South Florida extended its school-record winning streak to 10 by routing East Carolina 61-31 on Saturday.
D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns, receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling took an end-around 75 yards for a touchdown and caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Flowers, and Auggie Sanchez returned an interception 43 yards for a TD.
The Bulls (5-0, 2-0 American) overcame some rare struggles on defense and remained perfect under first-year coach Charlie Strong by scoring on 10 of the 12 possessions with the starting offense.
Flowers, the American’s offensive player of the year in 2016, ran 16 yards for a touchdown and hit Tyre McCants for a 14-yard score. Darius Tice also had a 1-yard TD run for South Florida.
Thomas Sirk had two touchdown passes and two scoring runs to keep the Pirates (1-4, 1-1) in it for a while. He hit Davon Grayson for a 31-yard TD and Stephen Baggett with a jump pass for a 2-yard TD on the final play of the first half.
Three of their first five opponents are in this week’s Top 25 – No. 12 Virginia Tech, No. 23 West Virginia and these Bulls – and they’ve beaten ECU by a combined 181-68.
South Florida: The defense had been the trademark of this team under Strong , but this score-at-will showing looked more like something Willie Taggart’s team might have pulled off last year. A week after the Bulls held Temple to 85 total yards , that unit showed a few cracks, allowing season highs in points and total yards (414) to an ECU team that, for all its faults, can move the ball.
East Carolina: The offense kept rolling – ECU’s 24 points at halftime were more than the Bulls had allowed in any game all season – but things won’t improve until the defense gets better. The Pirates have allowed at least one 70-yard play in every game, and have given up at least 34 points in nine straight games, going 1-8 in that stretch. They allowed USF to gain 575 total yards – the fewest allowed by the Pirates this season.
South Florida: The Bulls have a week off before welcoming Cincinnati on Oct. 14.
East Carolina: The Pirates play host to Temple on Oct. 7.
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