TAMPA, Fla. -- Quinton Flowers is one of the reasons South Florida feels good about its future.
The sophomore rushed for a USF quarterback-record 201 yards and three touchdowns Saturday, helping the improving Bulls rout SMU 38-14 for their first three-game winning streak in four years.
USF (4-3, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) also matched its victory total for all of last season. SMU (1-6, 0-3) has lost five straight during a stretch in which the Mustangs have yielded 240 points.
"Three feels good," coach Willie Taggart beamed. "I bet four feels a lot better."
With leading rusher Marlon Mack sitting out because of a sore right hamstring, Flowers broke USF's single-game rushing record for a quarterback on his first carry of the second half. Matt Grothe ran 146 yards against Connecticut in 2007, and Flowers nearly matched that with 142 on 13 attempts while building a 17-7 halftime lead.
Flowers carried 10 more times in the second half to become the eighth player in USF history to top 200 yards rushing. He also completed 9 of 20 passes for 97 yards without an interception, building on the success he enjoyed in leading victories over Syracuse and UConn the previous two weeks.
"It feels good when you have guys that believe in you, coaches that believe in you," Flowers said.
"He's a phenomenal athlete," Taggart added. "He's growing up and getting better every week."
USF, which is 10-20 under third-year coach Taggart, has won three straight for the first time since the Bulls went 3-0 to begin the 2011 season. The Bulls will try to extend the streak to four next week at Navy.
Backup Darrel Colbert, Jr., threw a 37-yard TD pass to Courtland Sutton for SMU, which actually outgained USF 365 yards to 352. Colbert entered the game in the fourth quarter and was 11 of 13 passing for 120 yards, while also rushing for 39 yards on eight attempts.
"They're not giving up. They're fighting hard," SMU coach Chad Morris said. "Same song, different verse. We're going to flip it."
Mack led the AAC in rushing as a freshman last season and is on pace to break USF's single-season rushing mark, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and 114 yards per game.
Without the sophomore running back, the Bulls relied heavily on Flowers' legs, as well as some timely -- if sporadic -- passing. Mack's replacement, Darius Tice, scored on a 1-yard run after Flowers scooted 67 yards to the SMU 8 to set up his team's first touchdown. Completions of 15 yards to A.J. Legree and 10 yards to Sean Price, plus a 20-yard quarterback keeper moved the Bulls into position to extend their lead to 17-7 on Flowers' 8-yard TD run.
Flowers added a second TD, on a 5-yard run, early in the fourth quarter. He limped off the field with what Taggart described as a thigh bruise after scoring on an 18-yard run with just over six minutes remaining.
The 210-pound quarterback scrambled up the right sideline, leaped from the 3-yard line for the end zone and was hit and spun around in midair as he crossed the goal line and landed awkwardly on his hip.
Flowers said he expects to play at Navy.
"I'll be alright," Flowers, who had an ice wrap on his left thigh, said.
"He's going to be sore for a while," Taggart added, "but he's going to be fine."
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