Both teams got off to a slow start early in the first quarter. USF’s 1st two drives ended in a punt, while the Hilltoppers elected to go for it on 4th down in USF territory, but failed to convert on their 2nd possession and had to punt on their 1st and 3rd possession. We didn’t see our 1st points of the game until USF’s 3rd drive when Quinton Flowers to a 12 yard rush to the left side of the endzone and walked in untouched, making it 7-0.
The Bull’s followed this performance up with an encore on their next drive as they continued to find success on the ground. This time, it was Rodney Adams, with a 34 yard burst up the middle he showed off his speed all the way to the endzone giving the Bull’s the early 14-0 lead with 12:18 left to play in the 2nd quarter.
It wasn’t until their 6th drive that the Hilltoppers were finally able to get some points on the board. But on the 6th drive, it took just two plays for WKU to find the endzone. The first play was a 53-yard pass from Doughty to Taywon Taylor to set up a 1st and 10 from the 13-yard line. On the next play Anthony Wales gave us our 3rd rushing touchdown of the game, as his score made it 14-7 with 6:17 left to play in the half.
With momentum on their side and the ball first & goal at the 6-yard line on their next drive, it looked as if a sure bet that the Hilltoppers were going to gain their first lead of the game. What ensued was not anything of the sort. On 1st down Forrest Lamp picked up a 15-yard personal foul, which made it 1st & Goal from the 21. On 2nd down Doughty took a 7-yard sack, pushing them back to the 28. Then on 3rd down Doughty took a 10-yard sack, forcing a punt on 4th and goal from the 38.
Unfortunately, the Bulls weren’t able to take advantage of the momentum swing and WKU forced them into a 3 and out. WKU added a field goal as time expired in the half to make it 14-10 as the two teams went into the locker-room.
Doughty and the Hilltoppers responded with a 7-play 69-yard drive, capped off by a 9 yard rushing TD by Nacarius Fant. USF’s ensuing drive stalled out in just 3 plays and Western Kentucky got the ball back on the Bull’s 26-yard line after a 37-yard return by Fant.
One play later, Doughty connected with Jared Dangerfield for a 26 yard TD score to make it 38-21 Hilltoppers with 5 seconds left to play in the 3rd quarter.
Trailing by 17, the Bull’s wouldn’t let up, taking just two plays to find the endzone and cut the lead to just 10. Then the Bull Shark defense came up big, forcing the Hilltoppers into a 3 & out. On the Bull’s next possession Flowers found the endzone again with his legs to make it 38-35, putting USF back within a field goal with 11:00 left to play in the 4th.
Once again on the next drive, the bulls came out big forcing another 3 and out. This gave USF a perfect chance to regain the lead or tie it up. But a 10 play drive that only gained 14 net yards, was capped off by a 54-yard missed field goal.
This gave WKU the ball back with 5:58 left to play, if USF’s defense could come up with another big stop they would give their offense one last chance to come back. But two plays later the Bull’s defense could be seen with their hands on their hips in defeat as Anthony Wales burst for a 42 yard rushing TD to make it 45-35 with 5:09 left to play.
USF’s next drive ended on a 4th and 4 incomplete pass from Flowers to A.J. Legree, but he missed his receiver badly on an overthrow. The Hilltoppers burned 2:35 off the clock on their next drive before punting the ball back to the Bull’s with just 34 seconds left to play, by that time it was too late for a USF comeback attempt.
Brandon Doughty completed 32 of 44 passes for 461 yards and 3 TD's and two picks for the Hilltoppers on his way to being named to 2015 Miami Beach Bowl MVP Award.
USF’s Quinton Flowers struggled, completing just 14 of 32 passes for 275 yards and just 1 passing TD. But Flowers tallied 108 yards rushing on 16 attempts; he was one of two 100+ yard USF rushers. Marlon Mack was the other with 108 yards and a score on 17 carries