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USF wins another shootout with fourth-down stop of SMU

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The wildest season in USF history continued in Dallas Saturday night with another close victory.

For the high-scoring, high-scoring-against Bulls, the 35-27 victory over SMU was the team’s third straight narrow victory (after touchdown wins against Navy and Memphis). The win allowed USF to go to 9-2, which ties a school record for victories.

USF still has a shot at the American Conference game if it can beat UCF next week and have Eastern Carolina upset Temple.

The Mustangs had their way against USF for most of the night, gaining 578 yards to USF’s 473. SMU kept the ball for 36:11; USF had it only 23:49.

The game came down to a fourth and one at the USF 16 when Braeden West was stopped for no gain by Auggie Sanchez.

“It’s two weeks in a row, where they stepped up big for us, and that’s good to see,” coach Willie Taggart said. Getting those takeaways was great for our guys. I’m really proud of those guys stepping up for us once again.

“Once again, we needed a defense stand and they stood up. Deatrick Nichols came over to me and said, ‘We got you, coach.’ ”

USF made up for the difference with quick strikes. Three times on the night, the Bulls had one-yard drives for touchdowns.

The Mustangs clearly tried to limit Quinton Flowers’ impact on the game. Still, Flowers ended with 142 yards rushing. Passing, he threw for three touchdowns. But SMU stayed close as quarterback Ben Hicks threw for 280 yards. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton caught 13 passes for 252 yards.

For SMU, West had 120 yards rushing.

Flowers had 142 yards rushing and Marlon Mack had 129. Receiver Tyre McCants caught three passes for 105 yards and two scores.

For USF, two streaks continued. One, the team has scored at least 30 points in every game this year. Two, it’s given up at least 20 in every game but Northern Illinois.

USF is home Saturday against UCF.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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