TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Quinton Flowers threw for 186 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns to help No. 19 South Florida shrug off a slow start in a 31-17 victory over Stony Brook on Saturday.
Tyre McCants' 65-yard TD reception put USF (2-0) ahead for good with 11:23 remaining. Mazzi Wilkins' interception set up a late TD that ended any hopes for Stony Brook (0-1) to rally for an upset.
Darius Tice scored on runs of 1 and 14 yards for the Bulls, who overcame a slow start for the second straight week.
Stony Brook led 10-7 at halftime and put themselves into position to pull off a shocker when Stacey Bedell swept left end on a 54-yard TD burst that made it 17-all with just over 13 minutes to go.
Flowers was superb after falling behind San Jose State 16-0 in USF's opener, and the senior's composure was a factor again Saturday.
He threw a 6-yard TD pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 14-10 lead late in the third quarter, then put his team in front for good with a deep sideline throw to McCants.
Stony Brook's Augie Contressa recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to give the Seawolves an early lead.
Joe Carbone completed 17 of 34 passes for 137 yards with two interceptions. Bedell finished with 71 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Flowers, meanwhile, was 19 of 32 passing with two TDs and one interception. He also led USF in rushing with 67 yards on 18 attempts.
A tougher than expected test against Stony Brook reinforced the message Strong delivered to his players after last week's rout of San Jose State - that there's no room for complacency if USF wants to achieve its goals this season. The Bulls figure to be favored in most - if not all - of their games. Saturday showed, however, that they are still learning that being ranked in the Top 25 puts a target on their backs every week. Stony Brook, which hasn't had a winning season since 2012, showed it's plenty capable of competing with everyone else on its schedule.
Shrugging off slow starts to rout San Jose State and Stony Brook in the first two games won't do much to improve the Bulls' position in the rankings. The challenge Saturday was to resist the temptation to take a heavy underdog lightly, and instead view Stony Brook as an excellent opportunity to get better heading into next week's American Athletic Conference opener at Connecticut.