Junior inside receiver Keke Coutee jumped from seventh place to second on Texas Tech’s single-season receiving yardage list during the Red Raiders’ 38-34 Birmingham Bowl loss Saturday to No. 23 South Florida. Coutee caught 11 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown, making his season final totals 93 receptions for 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus a kickoff-return TD.
It was Coutee’s fifth game this season with more than 150 yards.
“We felt like we could be successful in certain play calls,” Coutee said. “We wanted to take advantage of those safeties over the slot positions. We wanted to run past them. We had those opportunities all night.”
Coutee’s long gainers included catches of 37, 20, 21, 33 and 28 yards.
Coutee started Saturday with 1,242 yards for the season and moved past Danny Amendola (1,245 in 2007), Lloyd Hill (1,261 in 1992), Jakeem Grant (1,268 in 2015), Joel Filani (1,300 in 2006) and Jace Amaro (1,352 in 1013).
They all finished far back of Michael Crabtree’s season of 1,962 yards in 2007.
Asked after the game whether he will stay in school or leave early to pursue an NFL opportunity, Coutee said, “I haven’t made a decision yet. That’s something I’d rather not talk about right now.”
South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers broke the American Athletic Conference career record for total offense on a run in the second quarter. Flowers came in needing 47 yards for the record and finished with 417 — 311 passing and 106 rushing. His career total came to 11,802 yards.
Tech kept Flowers in check for the first half and into the third quarter. The 6-foot, 215-pound senior had 259 passing yards and three touchdowns and 90 yards rushing and a touchdown after his team trailed 17-10 early in the third quarter.
“He’s special,” Tech safety Jah’Shawn Johnson said. “He can beat you on his feet, beat you in the air. We saw on film all month that he’s making guys miss, getting out of the pocket and extending plays for his team. That’s what he did tonight, so credit to him.”
Penalty or not?
South Florida’s seven-play, 75-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown included a Quinton Flowers throwaway that drew scrutiny. Tech pass rusher Tony Jones pursued Flowers deep behind the line of scrimmage, and Flowers sailed a pass into the Red Raiders’ bench area.
Officials ruled it was not intentional grounding.
“They said he was outside of the pocket,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I’d have to watch the film to see it. I couldn’t tell if he was or not. It looked like he was pretty vertical back there, but that was the call made.”
The play came on second-and-10 from the Tech 47. Flowers scrambled for 21 yards on the next play, then threw the decisive 26-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants the play after that with 16 seconds left.
Tech settled for a 10-10 tie at halftime after repeatedly blowing chances to take control. The Red Raiders were in USF territory on six series in the first half and managed a Clayton Hatfield field goal and a 5-yard touchdown pass to Keke Coutee.
They also had a turnover on downs, a punt and Nic Shimonek threw two interceptions. Four of the six drives into USF territory reached the Bulls’ 25.
“Early in the game, we should have made the plays when we had the chance,” Shimonek said.
Tech RB Justin Stockton had his fourth 100-yard performance of the season, 18 carries for 103 yards, in his final college game. Stockton finished the season with 797 rushing yards, and Tre King with 623. King carried 10 times for 35 yards and a touchdown. … First-team all-American Athletic Conference DT Deadrin Senat made a career-high three sacks in his final game for USF. The Bulls’ two interceptions gave them 20 for the season, tying for the FBS lead.
— Don Williams, A-J Media
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