March 10, 2014
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Brian Ormiston
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Blake Bortles vs. Teddy Bridgewater. Mention that matchup these days and the sporting world thinks about what NFL jerseys the dynamic quarterbacks will be wearing if they get to square off on Sundays.
On Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 though, Bortles was still not a household name as UCF visited No. 8/6 Louisville on ESPN. The attention was on Bridgewater, and for good reason. The Cardinals were national title contenders, entering the day at 6-0, and were the preseason pick to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference crown.
When UCF received the opening kickoff, it immediately looked like it was the preseason favorite. The Knights trotted their way to the redzone and looked to quiet a packed Papa John's Cardinal Stadium with a quick score. On third down, Blake Bortles tried to hit Jeff Godfrey in the back corner of the endzone only to have Calvin Pryor make a highlight-reel interception.
Yet it would not be the only time Bortles looked for Godfrey in the same area that night. And the result would end up being much different.
Bridgewater turned the pick into a 7-0 lead, converting all three third downs along the way. The defenses would take over until the second quarter when UCF finally answered, capping off a nine-play, 71-yard drive with a William Stanback 4-yard run. That was not the key play, however, as Rannell Hall watched as he was stripped at the Louisville-8, but Stanback was in the right place at the right time to keep UCF in control.
The Cardinals responded to end the half, which ultimately would start a stretch where they scored 21-unanswered points. Trailing 28-7 with 7:52 to go in the third quarter, UCF began on its own 26, and found itself in a 3rd-and-3 situation at the UCF-33. Failing to get the first down would have kept momentum with Louisville, possibly for the rest of the game. But Bortles and Breshad Perriman changed everything in one play, as Perriman snagged a 32-yard pass, dragging one foot barely in bounds to keep the drive alive. Three plays later and Storm Johnson rushed for a 1-yard score. And on the Cardinals' second snap on the ensuing drive, Clayton Geathers punched the ball loose from Senorise Perry and Sean Maag jumped on it. It then took UCF one play to make it 28-21 as Johnson scampered for a 20-yard touchdown reception.
The Cardinals' once again could not get anything going, witnessing Terrance Plummer bring down Bridgewater for a 14-yard sack to force a punt. This time, the Knights needed three plays to go 56 yards, and when Stanback rushed for a 12-yard touchdown, UCF's sideline was electric as the body language between the two schools was very different entering the fourth quarter.
A lot could still happen in the final 15 minutes. And it did.
Shawn Moffitt gave UCF its first lead at 31-28 with a 34-yard field goal with 7:36 remaining, but Louisville put an end to the Knights' run, finding the endzone at 3:00 on the clock.
Plenty of time for Bortles and company. Close to midfield, Josh Reese hauled in a 28-yard catch, Godfrey pulled in a pass for 11 yards and on 3rd-and-10 Reese delivered again with a 14-yarder. Bortles spiked the ball with 33 ticks on the clock and UCF positioned on the Louisville-5. Following a 3-yard rush from Johnson and a UCF timeout, it was 3rd-and-goal at the 2-yard line and the Knights had no timeouts left.
Although the Louisville band continued to play at a deafening volume while the Knights were running plays of their own, it did not affect the visitors in black and gold. The noise of the home crowd seemed to spark even more life into UCF. When Bortles took the snap, he went back to the corner of the endzone for Godfrey, floating a ball over three Cardinals and into the hands of the waiting senior.
The only chance Louisville had to answer one of the best drives in UCF history was a Hail Mary from the UCF-49. As Bridgewater heaved it, thoughts of UCF's win over Georgia in the 2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl danced into fans' heads as the Knights won when Kemal Ishmael batted down the Bulldogs' Hail Mary. This time, Louisville's last chance fell with a thud to the turf.
First place in The American? Check. First win over a top-10 team? Check. More late-game heroics? Check. Celebrating with the traveling UCF fans in the stands of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium? A memory that will last a lifetime.
Final score: UCF 38, No. 8/6 Louisville 35
UCF's record: 5-1 Overall, 2-0 American
2014 Football Season Tickets: The March to Victory starts with UCF fans. Renew or order season tickets, starting at $99, today online or call 407-UCF-1000. And to learn about the Croke Park Classic against Penn State Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland, check out UCF.CrokeParkClassic.com.