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Bulls crush the Orange with second half assault

South Florida's Deadrin Senat, left, and Auggie Sanchez, right, sack Syracuse's Eric Dungey in the second quarter (Nick Lisi/AP)

SYRACUYSE, N.Y. (AP) — Rodney Adams scored three touchdowns as USF's high-powered, quick-strike offense roared back from an early 17-0 deficit to defeat Syracuse 45-20 on Saturday and remain unbeaten this season.

"Our guys really had fight and overcame adversity," USF coach Willie Taggart said. "We knew we'd face adversity and I wanted to see how this 2016 team handled it. They didn't flinch. They (Syracuse) threw the first punch and our guys kind of took it, then our guys settled down and things started to really take off for us."

The Bulls (3-0) are 5-0 at the Carrier Dome. Led by Marlon Mack's 115 yards rushing, USF has won 10 of its last 12 games and gained at least 200 yards on the ground for the eighth-straight game. Mack, who rushed for two touchdowns against the Orange a year ago, added two more. D'Ernest Johnson returned a punt 83 yards for another score.

Quinton Flowers was 12 of 24 for 183 yards passing for the Bulls and rushed for 51 more. Eric Dungey was 32-for-48 for 350 yards and two TDs for Syracuse.

Playing with a depleted secondary and a defense that was torched by Louisville a week ago, Syracuse (1-2) dominated the opening quarter on both sides of the ball, outscoring the Bulls 17-0, outgaining USF 214-64 yards — 40 coming on a run by Mack on the quarter's final play. The Orange registered 12 first downs in the quarter, to USF's three and scored on pass plays of 24 and 47 yards from Dungey to Erv Philips and Brisly Estime, and a 40-yard field goal by Cole Murphy.

"Early on, we were just missing blocks, missing assignments, missed reads by a quarterback," Taggart said. "Once we settled down, things just started taking off."

And the Syracuse defense couldn't stop the onslaught.

"I thought the first part of the game we were able to do the things we wanted to do," Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. "I thought we started off well. Once the second quarter, third quarter, second half (started), we weren't quite able to finish. I thought we could really win that game and I'm a little disappointed that we didn't."

South Florida has scored 149 points this season. The Bulls had four scoring drives under two minutes and blitzed Syracuse 45-3 after the first quarter.

TAKEAWAYS:

USF: Mack was held pretty much in check by the Orange — at least until late in the third quarter. Mack, who gained 184 yards against SU a year ago, had 55 yards on five carries in the first half, but 40 of those came on one play. He scampered untouched for a 52-yard touchdown late in the third quarter and now has 14 100-yard games, a South Florida record.

SYRACUSE: The Orange was playing without three-quarters of its starting secondary. Antwan Cordy and Juwan Dowels, who were both injured against Louisville, are out for the season with forearm and knee injuries, respectively, and Kielan Whitner also sat out Saturday.

UP NEXT:

USF: The Bulls host in-state foe Florida State next Saturday. Expect the Seminoles to be smarting from this week's drubbing at the hands of Louisville.

SYRACUSE: The Orange goes out of conference for a road game Saturday against former Big East rival UConn.