Jan. 2, 2014
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By Andrew Jennette
GLENDALE, Ariz. (UCFKnights.com) - The most memorable season in UCF football history ended with the most memorable win in program history. In thrilling fashion, the Knights took a 52-42 triumph over Baylor in the 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
The Knights (12-1) won their third-consecutive bowl game and set a school record with their 12th victory of the season. UCF came into the season with just one victory over a ranked opponent and ended tonight's historic effort with their second over a ranked squad this season alone. To make the accomplishment even more impressive, both wins over ranked teams came over Top 10 opponents.
"Well, obviously it was a great win for UCF, the fan base and everybody that came out from Orlando," head coach George O'Leary said. "I thought the kids went out and executed what they were coached all week and back on campus."
Junior quarterback Blake Bortles was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Offensive Player of the Game after racking up 301 passing yards and three touchdowns to go along with a career-high 93 yards rushing and a touchdown.
"It's awesome to be a part of this," Bortles said after the game. "We came in together, we weren't highly touted guys out of high school, but we came to UCF on a mission. We're going to try and keep that going."
UCF's offense matched Baylor's high-powered attack every step of the way. The Bears came into the contest leading the NCAA in scoring offense and total offense, but it was the Knights that racked up 52 points and 558 total yards for the victory. The points and yardage were the largest totals ever by UCF in a bowl game and against a ranked opponent.
Much was said before the game about how the Knights' defense would stack up against Baylor's up-tempo offense. UCF, however, came into the game with the 13th-ranked scoring defense in the nation. The Knights forced seven Baylor punts and two turnovers, while holding the Bears 11 points and 75 yards beneath their season averages.
The Knights began to put the wild back-and-forth affair on ice when Storm Johnson ripped off a 40-yard touchdown run to give UCF a 49-35 advantage with 10:26 remaining. Johnson set a new career high with 124 rushing yards and matched his season-high mark with three rushing touchdowns. The Knights accounted for the winning total with a 36-yard field goal from Shawn Moffitt with less than five minutes remaining.
UCF got off to a roaring start. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Knights churned out 76 yards in six rush attempts, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown burst by Johnson. This marked the first touchdown drive of the season for the Knights that came without a single pass attempt.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Black and Gold again marched down the field, primarily on the strength of its rushing attack. After Bortles found Breshad Perriman streaking down the left sideline for a 34-yard gain, UCF returned to its ground control attack with four consecutive running plays. Johnson's 2-yard touchdown plunge gave the Knights a 14-0 advantage just eight minutes into the contest.
Junior Rannell Hall proved once again that his nickname, "Speedy" is appropriate as he took two short, second-quarter passes to the house. Both catches were made near the line of scrimmage and featured Hall out-running the Baylor secondary, with help from some terrific blocking from fellow wideouts Josh Reese, J.J. Worton and Taylor Oldham.
While Bortles brought home Offensive Player of the Game honors, Terrance Plummer was named Defensive Player of the Game. The junior linebacker racked up a game-high 14 tackles, including half a sack. Sean Maag (12 tackles) and Clayton Geathers (10 tackles) both recorded double-digit stops as well.
For 2014 season ticket information and details on how to join the GKC, call 407-UCF-1000.