TAMPA, Fla. — Quinton Flowers ran for 176 yards and two touchdowns to help South Florida get back on track in the American Athletic Conference with a 52-45 victory over No. 22 Navy on Friday night.
Rebounding from a 16-point loss to Temple that cost the Bulls (7-2, 4-1) sole possession of first place in the AAC's East Division, Flowers keyed a balanced attack that amassed 629 yards total offense against an overmatched Navy defense that yielded TDs on USF's first six possessions of the game to fall behind 42-14 at halftime.
Will Worth ran for four touchdowns for Navy (5-2, 4-1), which leads the AAC West and entered game as the only team without a loss in league play after beating then-unbeaten Houston and Memphis to nudge into the Top 25.
Flowers joined Marlon Mack in topping 100 yards rushing for the third time in four games. The dual-threat quarterback scored on runs of 1 and 63 yards, while also throwing for 219 and two more TDs.
Mack scored on an 85-yard run in the opening quarter and finished with 125 on 11 carries for the 18th 100-yard performance of his career, fifth this season.
Worth rushed for 129 yards and scored on runs of 4, 1, 1 and 2 yards for Navy, which was forced to throw the ball more than the Midshipmen are accustomed, with Worth going 15 of 27 for 299 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The senior quarterback from Valrico, Florida — a short drive from the USF campus — set up one of his TDs with a 42-yard completion to Toneo Gulley. The Midshipmen attempted more than eight passes in a game for only the third time this season, finishing with 616 yards total offense, including 317 rushing.
Worth's 9-yard TD pass to Darryl Bonner came on the game's final play.
Navy: The Midshipmen thrive by essentially playing keep-away, using a potent rushing attack to control the ball and keep opposing offenses off the field for long stretches. The strategy worked to perfection a year ago — when Navy ran for 442 yards to beat USF 29-17 in Annapolis — but never got a chance to work this time.
South Florida: Flowers leads the American in TD passes, however the Bulls are at their best when they're able to run the ball consistently. Mack led the AAC is rushing the past two years. And along with Flowers, who is averaging more than 7 yards per carry, USF has the best one-two running punch in the conference.
Rare league loss
Navy has won 11 of 13 conference games since joining the American last year. The only another loss in league play was a 52-31 defeat at Houston last season.
Navy steps out of conference, returning to Florida next Saturday to face Notre Dame in Jacksonville.
South Florida has a bye before playing at Memphis on Nov. 12.
© 2017 Associated Press