Nov. 10, 2013
Final Stats | Quotes | Notes | USATSI Gallery | UCF vs. Houston
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Jenna Marina
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com)- A stand that won't soon be forgotten. A defining moment that kept the championship dreams alive. A night that saw the No 19/21 UCF football team climb atop the American Athletic Conference standings.
Backed by a resolute defensive effort, UCF (7-1, 4-0 The American) held on for a 19-14 victory over Houston (7-2, 4-1) under the lights of Bright House Networks Stadium on Saturday in front of 44,665.
UCF saw its fourth-quarter, 12-point lead shrink to 19-14 with less than four minutes remaining when Houston receiver Wayne Beadle caught a 12-yard touchdown reception from quarterback John O'Korn. The drama intensified as the Knights' offense went three-and-out, giving the Cougars the ball on their own 38-yard line with plenty of time to make things interesting.
Houston found its way to 1st-and-goal with under a minute to play. The defense dug in.
O'Korn managed to pick up three yards but would get no closer, and on fourth down, UCF junior defensive back Brandon Alexanderbroke up the final attempt in the end zone to force a turnover on downs, icing the game for his team with 14 seconds left.
"I've been around football a long time and it doesn't get any closer than that," UCF head coach George O'Learysaid. "We made the play on defense. The coverage was good. I thought the kids hung in there and did what they had to do at the end to win the game."
The Cougars entered the contest averaging 41.1 points per game, good for 11th in the country, and 483.1 yards of total offense. UCF limited Houston to 367 yards for the game.
Despite two red zone turnovers in the first quarter, the Knights were able to make it to halftime with a 6-0 advantage.
Junior wide receiver Josh Reese set up UCF with good field position midway through the second quarter by making an impressive sideline catch. As Blake Bortlesscrambled, Reese clapped for the ball and dragged his toes inbounds to keep the 20-yard-completion legitimate.
The series ended in Shawn Moffitt's11th-straight field goal make, a 45-yarder to put UCF on the board, 3-0, with 8:38 to go in the first half.
Moffitt came through for the Knights again after Bortles found Jeff Godfreyjetting across the middle on 3rd-and-4. He churned 41 yards into the red zone, and Moffitt capped the drive with a 40-yard field goal at the two-minute warning.
As the second half neared to a close, UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer jumped early on an intended Houston receiver and picked up with what could have been a costly pass interference call if not for the work of E.J. Dunston.
Dunston batted down a pass attempt on 3rd-and-10, and the Cougars decided to test their luck as the clock winded down. This time, Dunston got the sack to keep Houston scoreless at the break.
UCF's defense came up with another stellar stop again at the start of the third quarter. As Houston threaten to breach the red zone, Alexander came up with a SportsCenter Top-10 worthy interception on the sideline. Unfortunately, Bortles fumbled the ball in UCF territory and Houston was able to take its first lead, 7-6, off a 24-yard TD rush by O'Korn with just under eight minutes to play in the third.
The Knights didn't stay down for long. UCF called upon William Stanbackin the last three plays of a 75-yard drive, and he delivered a 15-yard touchdown run that sent the student section into a frenzy as the Knights reclaimed a 13-7 lead.
The game and rowdy crowd came to a standstill early in the fourth quarter when UCF sophomore wide receiver Breshad Perriman took a hard hit that resulted in a targeting penalty and ejection for Houston defensive back Zach McMillian.
Perriman was strapped to a board and wheeled off the field on a stretcher, but he held a thumb's up that elicited a standing ovation from the stadium. O'Leary referenced in the post-game press conference that Perriman will be alright and UCF will further evaluate his status.
The Knights seemed to play with Perriman on their mind as Stanback slipped past two defenders for a 38-yard touchdown run, capping UCF's 98-yard drive - the longest of the year.
Two plays later, the defense came up big again as Jacoby Glenn caught the tipped ball by Clayton Geathersfor UCF's second interception of the night.
Although Houston swung some momentum in its favor by blocking Moffit's 50-yard field goal attempt, the defense refused to let the Cougars sneak away with a win.
"We were able to play UCF football. That is our goal on defense - to play hard," Dunston said. "Coach always has us prepare like the game is going to come down to 4-and-1 on the goal line to win the game. That is basically what it came down to."
Johnson carried the ball 28 times for 127 yards and Bortles completed 17-of-24 pass attempts for 210 yards with an interception.
UCF now travels to Temple for the ESPN American Regional Game of the Week next Saturday for a noon kickoff.