Sept. 28, 2013
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By Brian Ormiston
UCF vs. South Carolina
Sept. 28, 2013
|From Bright House Networks Stadium
Coach To Cure MD Hits Home for UCF Family
Brendan Labbadia is like any 3-year-old boy. His arms flail about while chasing his older sister, Cate. He delights in the juice boxes and fruit snacks that are stashed in mom's purse. He is curious. He is energetic. And he is always smiling, especially when football and the Knights are being discussed.
"You look at him and you don't know there's anything wrong," his father, Chris, said. "That's the toughest part for us because we know something is there."
Nearly a year ago, 12 days before his second birthday, Brendan was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It is a progressive muscle disorder that causes loss of muscle function and independence with a lifetime expectancy that usually falls short of one's 30s.
During the day Saturday, the Knights had the Labbadias and the Duchenne community on their minds.
UCF head coach George O'Leary and the football staff, which has been a part of the annual Coach To Cure MD initiative since it began in 2008, wore special patches on their arms to bring awareness to the disease. Coach to Cure MD is led by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a support organization that Brendan's family became involved with several months ago at the urging of his neurologist.
Colleen is a UCF alum and a fiercely devoted mother to Brendan, whom she works with tirelessly to keep his muscles moving.
The Labbadias first knew something was wrong when Brendan still hadn't begun to walk by 15 months. After he was enrolled in physical therapy and still had not taken steps by 18 months, testing diagnosed Brendan's condition.
He has progressed tremendously since then. Thanks to physical therapy masked as playtime in his every day routine, he seems to run more now than he walks. But this is what is called the "grace period" of his condition. In less than a few short years, he will begin to regress.
One reason the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) was drawn to Coach To Cure MD was because of the unique parallels between Duchenne, a disorder which robs young men of precious muscle strength, and college football, a game where young men are at the peak of their muscle strength, according to www.coachtocuremd.org.
"There is no treatment or cure, but with funds and awareness that are raised through events like this, hopefully it will be a domino effect that one day that cure will come," Colleen said. "It's very heartwarming that UCF has participated for as many years as they have, and to be able to come out and support it, it's amazing.
"When I wake up every day, I wake up to the sad reality that Brendan has a fatal genetic disorder," his mother continued. "Knowing that there are agencies out there like Parent Project MD gives me hope that someday he won't suffer the fate they are telling me he will. That he can have a brighter future; that he can go on to do the things we dream for him. We have Florida Prepaid (College Plan) set up for him. We hope he can come to UCF."
By: Jenna Marina
-UCF will enter American Athletic Conference play with a 3-1 record. This is the first season the Knights won three regular-season non-conference games since joining its first league in 2002 (MAC).
-Saturday's attendance was 47,605. It was the fourth-largest home crowd in UCF history, the second-largest crowd at Bright House Networks Stadium (first year was 2007) and the seventh sellout at the stadium.
-The game was televised by ABC, marking the first time the Knights were on network television.
-UCF reached the end zone on its first drive, marking the third time in four games it has scored a touchdown on its first drive.
-South Carolina failed to score in the first quarter for the first time in 2013, and it was the first time since Jan. 2, 2010, and the Papjohns.com Bowl that the Gamecocks did not score in a first half.
-When South Carolina took a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, it was the first time this year UCF had trailed in a game.
-The offensive line limited standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to two assisted tackles and one quarterback hurry.
-Captains for UCF were: senior offensive linemen Kelly Davison and Justin McCray, and senior defensive back Sean Maag.
-Maag would record his first career interception with a pick at the end of the first half.
-Quarterback Blake Bortles passed for a career-best 358 yards Saturday, completing 25-of-36 with two TDs and two interceptions.
-Bortles became the sixth Knight in UCF history to go over 5,000 yards passing. He now has 5,191 yards passing for his career.
-Bortles completed 25 passes Saturday, moving his career total to 401. He now ranks No. 6 on the UCF all-time career completions list.
-Bortles now has thrown a touchdown pass in 12 straight games, tying for the third-longest streak in school history (record is 28).
-The 358 passing yards by Bortles were the 25th most in a single game in UCF history.
-Junior Storm Johnson finished with 64 rushing yards and a touchdown. He now has seven rushing touchdowns in 2013. He had five for his career entering this season.
-Rannell Hall had a career-high 142 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while Breshad Perriman collected 109 yards. They both now have two 100-yard receiving games in their careers (both have happened in 2013).
-It was the first time since Nov. 11, 2006, against Memphis that UCF had two players with at least 100 receiving yards.
-Junior linebacker Terrance Plummer forced a fumble in his second straight game, which also was his second career forced fumble.
-Junior linebackers Troy Gray and Michael Easton each forced their first career fumbles in the second half.
-Plummer led the team for the fourth-straight game in tackles, posting 14, which was one shy of his personal-best.
-Clayton Geathers amassed 11 tackles Saturday, putting him over 200 for his career (206).
-Freshman Caleb Houston boomed a 54-yard punt that put South Carolina on its own 3-yard line. It was a career-long punt.
-Shawn Moffitt connected on his only field-goal try on the day, making him a perfect 5-for-5 this season.