By:Adrian Beecher- Posted November 30, 2013
Orlando FL- It's not often a team turns the ball over 5 times and comes out with a win, but UCF's glass slippers keep clicking. Friday night they pulled off a 23-20 victory over rival USF at Bright House Networks Stadium in another 4th quarter comeback by the Knights to keep their BCS dreams alive.
On UCF's opening drive RB Storm Johnson was stripped of the ball by USF's Johnny Ward. This was just the start of a turnover filled evening. The Bull's capitalized on the turnover with a 46 yard field goal from kicker Marvin Kloss to go up 3-0.
On the Knights next possession they got all the way down to the 11 yard line with a first and 10, but as Storm Johnson looked to go through a hole on the left side UCF center Joey Grant was slow to get to his block and elbowed the ball out of Johnson's grasp causing his second fumble of the day which was then recovered by the Bulls.
At the end of the 1st quarter the game was tied up at three a piece even though the Bulls had only 10 total yards of offense compared to UCF's 78. Johnson wouldn't see action in the game again until the 2nd half, even then it was limited.
In the 2nd quarter after the Bulls added a field goal to go up 6-3, and UCF's Blake Bortles threw his first interception of the day, the Bulls QB Mike White drove USF down field and had the ball with a 4th and 2 at their own 8 yard line. As they looked to go for it on 4th, the snap was fumbled which resulted in a turnover giving the Knights the Ball with a 1st and 10 at their own 8 yard line.
Bortles then took his Knights down the field on a 12 play 92 yard drive that ate up 6:28 from the clock and was capped off by a 8 yard TD pass from Bortles to WR Justin Tukes. This put the Knights up 10-6 with 1:22 left in the half.
The Knights D held strong forcing a quick 3 and out and a punt that setup the Knights with the ball on the USF 46 yard line with 45 seconds left in the half. Bortles then connected with 2 receivers quickly to setup a UCF 1st and goal at the USF 7 yard line. The Knights would have to settle for a Shawn Moffitt 24 yard field goal which put them up 13-6 heading into the half.
In the 3rd quarter the Bulls would get their 1st TD on the board and UCF added a field goal to make it 16-13 Knights heading into the 4th quarter, this is where things got interesting.
USF punched the ball into the endzone on a 1 TD yard run by Marcus Shaw to put the Bulls up 20-16 with 14:17 left in the game.
With 6:54 left in the game and UCF opening their drive, the knights looked poised for another 4th quarter comeback. Unfortunately for the knights Faithful, Bortles threw an interception on the first play of the drive giving USF the ball inside the Knights 35 yard line.
On the ensuing USF drive the Knights D stood tall as the crowd ramped up the energy inside the stadium forcing a 51 yard field goal which sailed wide left giving UCF the ball back.
This gave the Knights new life and you could feel momentum swing in the stadium. On UCF's next possession Bortles steeped back to pass, pump faked to the left side, causing the Bulls defense to bite, this left WR Breshad Periman with plenty of space between him and his defender as he raced down the field, Bortles then threw a beautiful ball hitting Periman in stride for a 52 yard TD completion giving the Knights a 23-20 lead with 4:50 left in the game. "The safety was late and the corner had been sitting on routes all game. I flagged, the safety didn't get over there fast enough and Blake stuck it in there." Said Periman of the game winning TD play.
Bortles finished 17-for-26 for 219 yards, with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble.
The Bulls had one last chance to grab the victory or tie it up and send the game to OT, but with 1:20 left in the game and USF driving Mike white was Intercepted in Knights territory by CB Jordan Ozerities sealing the game for UCF and keeping their season goal of a first BCS Bowl game alive.
"I just look up in the sky, somebody's up there watching over us." said UCF Head Coach George O'Leary of this seasons comeback wins.
UCF heads to Dallas next Saturday to take on SMU. With a victory Saturday the Knights will clinch their fist BCS Bowl bid in school history. They can also clinch a bid if Louisville defeats Cincinnati next Thursday.