BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Quinton Flowers did it again at the Birmingham Bowl, launching another winning touchdown throw with a game against a Power 5 team on the line.
Flowers threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants with 16 seconds left to give South Florida a 38-34 victory over Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday.
Flowers led the Bulls (10-2) to a second straight dramatic victory in the bowl game at Legion Field, throwing for a pair of touchdowns in the final 4:26 after struggling in the first half.
“I was telling myself, I’ve got to hit my guys in the chest,” Flowers said. “I’ve got to put the ball in their chest and just give them a chance. I just went out there and my coach called the play that I wanted and thank God Tyre did what he was supposed to do and I did what I was supposed to do and we came out with the victory.”
The Bulls, who are 21-4 the past two seasons, won last year’s Birmingham Bowl on Flowers’ 25-yard touchdown pass in overtime against South Carolina.
The Red Raiders (6-7) had taken the lead with Nic Shimonek’s 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open T.J. Vasher in the end zone with 1:31 remaining. That left Flowers with plenty of time to work.
He ran 13 and 21 yards for first downs, the latter on a third-and-10 play. Then he found McCants on their second scoring connection.
The senior passed for 311 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran 14 times for 106 yards and a fifth score. Marquez Valdes-Scantling gained 133 yards on three catches.
Shimonek took Texas Tech across midfield in the final seconds but his desperation pass on the run was completed well short of the end zone.
Shimonek, who had led a fourth-quarter comeback in the regular-season finale against Texas, completed 32 of 59 passes for 416 yards. This time the Red Raiders couldn’t seal the deal.
“That’s really exactly what was going through my mind,” Shimonek said. “It was almost the same exact type scenario [as Texas].”
He threw for three touchdowns and was intercepted twice on deflected balls.
Keke Coutee had 11 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown while Justin Stockton ran for 103 yards.
The Red Raiders set up two touchdowns in the third quarter off fumble recoveries, taking a 24-17 lead. The defense helped preserve the lead with a pair of fourth-down stops, including a goal-line stand. Quentin Yontz stuffed Darius Tice from inside the 1 early in the fourth, but Flowers wound up getting the ball back across midfield.
He cashed in this time with a 5-yard touchdown run to tie it with 9:30 left.
“Defensively, it was stop after stop that we had to go get,” first-year South Florida coach Charlie Strong said. “And even for our offense, they had two turnovers and then they had two big fourth-down stops and our offense just continued to play.”