Ten Memorable Home Football Games
The following is a list of 10 memorable home games from UCF's tenure at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The Knights played at the facility in downtown Orlando from 1979-06. The program moved on campus to play at Bright House Networks Stadium in 2007.
Sept. 29, 1979 - UCF 7, Fort Benning 6 Photo Gallery
A total of 14,138 fans witnessed UCF's first home game at the Tangerine Bowl, and head coach Don Jonas made sure they would leave with a very memorable experience. On Fort Benning's first possession, Ron Johnson picked off a pass and returned it seven yards to the Fort Benning 46-yard line. Nine plays and two penalties later, quarterback Mike Cullison completed a 4-and-goal pass to Bobby Joe Plain for UCF's lone points. Fort Benning attempted a comeback to begin the second half, putting together a 77-yard drive to make it 7-6, but failed on the extra-point attempt. The Doughboys tried again in the fourth quarter and had two chances to take the lead. Their first opportunity collapsed when UCF recovered a fumble on a 2-and-goal try at the Knights' one-yard line. Fort Benning did grab a 9-6 advantage with a 44-yard field goal only to see it called back on an illegal procedure penalty. On the very next play, Doug Gatewood intercepted his second pass of the game, ultimately sealing the one-point victory. In all, the Doughboys completed just four passes while throwing four interceptions. Cullison finished 15-for-23 with 104 yards in the air.
Nov. 28, 1987 - UCF 12, Indiana University (Pa.) 10 Photo Gallery
In the first Division II playoff game held at the Citrus Bowl, Darin Slack got away with throwing five interceptions in a two-point win over Indiana University (Pa.). Though trailing 7-3 at the break, the Knights' Ed O'Brien cut it to 7-6 with a 44-yarder on the second half's first possession. UCF got the ball back on its own 20 with 4:45 left in the third quarter, and on 3-and-1, Slack found Bernard Ford for a 56-yard touchdown play. The two-point conversion may have failed, but UCF somehow managed to keep the lead for good. IUP added a fourth-quarter field goal to inch closer, but missed a 34-yarder with 4:46 left. It would take just a couple of seconds for IUP to get the ball back as Mark Giacone fumbled on UCF's second play from scrimmage, however Corris Ervin intercepted a Jim Pehanick pass to give the Knights the ball on their 20-yard line with 3:51 remaining. UCF eventually went three-and-out, where IUP had yet another chance to win the game. Starting on the UCF-49, Pehanick threw two incompletions and was sacked twice, which sealed the heart-stopping win for UCF. Slack ended up completing 20-of-38 attempts for 200 yards. A total of 151 of those passing yards went to Ford.
Sept. 17, 1988 - UCF 26, Troy 18 Photo Gallery
A year earlier, UCF was knocked out of the Division II playoffs with a 31-10 loss to Troy. The Knights wanted revenge in the 1988 regular season, especially since the Trojans went on to win the 1987 D-II title. A then-record crowd of 31,789 was on hand and it would end up overshadowing a 26-18 UCF victory. Down 18-6 after the Trojans scored on their first drive of the third quarter, most UCF fans were starting to compare the meeting to the semifinal loss the season prior. It all started to change mid-way through the third quarter when Kruczek called a trick play that saw quarterback Shane Willis pitch to receiver Sean Beckton who sailed a 21-yard touchdown strike to fellow receiver Arnell Spencer, followed by a Travis Allen extra point to narrow the gap to 18-13. The raucous crowd got into game, helping the defense snuff Troy State's next drive with Jose Trujillo's blocked punt that put the ball at the one-yard line. The crowd noise continued to increase, which led to UCF's players not hearing the snap count, resulting in two illegal procedure penalties on the drive, and worse, a misread by Willis leading to an interception at the two-yard-line. The crowd wouldn't quit and every time Trojan quarterback Bob Godsey stepped up to take the snap, the crowd erupted. He kept on stepping out of the play to plea to the referee to quiet down the crowd. He couldn't call the plays. Instead of helping Troy State, the referee called a delay of game penalty, thwarting the drive after just seven yards gained. UCF thanked the fan effort in the best way it could on the next drive with running back Gil Barnes' one-yard plunge nine-seconds into the fourth quarter that gave the Knights a 19-18 advantage and the lead for good. Running back Mark Giacone would add another score later in the fourth for the final 26-18 margin.
Nov. 17, 1990 - UCF 63, Texas Southern 6 Photo Gallery
To close-out the regular season, UCF thrashed Texas Southern, 63-6, at home behind Sean Beckton and arguably the greatest single-game performance by a player in school history. In the game, Beckton, a senior who would later join the UCF coaching ranks, threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to receiver Shawn Jefferson, ran 11 yards on a reverse for a touchdown, caught a 17-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown. The performance has never been duplicated at the NCAA Division I-AA level. Beckton's pass to Jefferson came on the Knights' first play from scrimmage after an interception on Texas Southern's first play of the first quarter.
Dec. 1, 1990 - UCF 52, William & Mary 38 Photo Gallery
UCF dominated William & Mary, 52-38, in a shootout in front of 20,067 to earn a spot in the Division I-AA semifinals. Sean Beckton caught two touchdown passes and threw another in the victory against the Tribe. UCF got into the semifinal behind its potent running game. Mark Giacone, the team's top rusher with 923 for the season, and fullback Perry Balasis had a routine where they would max bench press weights before the game in the locker room, come out and just smash the ball down an opponent's throat. Their style of play more or less resembled a roller derby and adding the triple threat of Beckton, with his ability to run, catch or throw, the UCF offense seemed to score at will. And it did on its very first possession vs. W&M. Ron Johnson found Beckton for a 67-yard TD play, but William & Mary had an answer for every Knight touchdown and eventually grabbed a 28-24 lead at halftime. With the score tied at 31-31 in the third, Johnson rushed for 45- and 11-yard pick-ups on back-to-back plays to get to the W&M 24. Perry Balasis finished the job with a one-yard TD run on third down early in the fourth quarter and the Tribe never had a chance to even it up again.
Aug. 31, 1995 - UCF 40, Eastern Kentucky 32 Photo Gallery
Not only was Daunte Culpepper taking the field for the first time in a UCF uniform, but the Knights had the unfortunate luxury of facing No. 5 Eastern Kentucky to begin the 1995 campaign. And the first two offensive plays run by Culpepper made fans begin to worry. Already down 7-0 thanks to an eight-play, 82-yard drive by the Colonels to open the contest, UCF needed to answer right away. However, Culpepper was sacked for a loss of two and he completed his first pass but for just four yards. Then, on 3-and-8, Culpepper connected with Gerod Davis on a 22-yard pass play, and Culpepper went on to go 5-for-5 for 84 yards on the drive, capped off by a 24-yard strike to Rufus Hall. UCF did fall behind 14-13 at the end of the first, only to see Culpepper continue to work his magic. The reigning Mr. Football in the state of Florida completed his first 12 passes, concluding his evening 20-for-25 for 254 yards and three touchdowns. UCF secured the win when EKU's on-side kick with 2:03 remaining did not go the required 10 yards.
Sept. 24, 2005 - UCF 23, Marshall 13 Photo Gallery
The first Conference USA game and first home contest of the year for UCF led to another very important first - the Knights first victory in 17 games. UCF topped Marshall, 23-13, at the Citrus Bowl to record its first victory since 2003. Following the historic victory, UCF's students charged onto the field in celebration, tearing down a goal post. Steven Moffett completed 19-of-26 passes for 290 yards and one score for UCF. Making his first career start, Kevin Smith rushed for 60 yards and one touchdown. The Knights defense stifled Marshall all game, limiting the Thundering Herd to just 11 yards on the ground, the third lowest total in UCF history. UCF's defense forced two fumbles and also posted two interceptions. Moffett finished by completing passes to six different receivers, most frequently Mike Walker, who had seven catches for 75 yards. Darcy Johnson totaled five catches for 72 yards, as UCF amassed 260 yards in the air.
Nov. 5, 2005 - UCF 31, Houston 29 Photo Gallery
Arguably the biggest win of the memorable 2005 season came vs. Houston, when UCF secured its sixth victory to become bowl eligible and remain in prime position for a spot in the C-USA Championship game. UCF led 24-10 with 8:40 to go in the third quarter, but the Cougars (4-4, 2-3) rallied, scoring three touchdowns in the game's final 18 minutes. Houston had the ball on its own 45-yard line with 1:29 remaining in the contest, but Kevin Kolb was sacked by senior Paul Carrington and then threw three incomplete passes. The crowd of 32,635 erupted as the Knights were now set to embark on their first trip to a bowl game in school history. Steven Moffett completed 21-of-30 passes for 275 yards with a pair of touchdowns - a five-yard scoring toss to senior Brandon Marshall at the end of the first quarter and a two-yard strike to junior Mike Walker with 2:16 remaining in the second quarter.
Dec. 3, 2005 - Tulsa 44, UCF 27 Photo Gallery
The 2005 Conference USA Championship game not only was the first in league history, but it also set the record for most fans to ever watch a UCF home game. Tulsa ruined the occasion by defeating UCF 44-27, but the Knights still received an invitation to the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. In front of 51,978, the Golden Hurricane took a huge 21-7 lead in the second quarter, but were victims of UCF's offensive attack, a system that allowed the Knights to score 17 unanswered points for a slim 24-21 cushion. The outburst was capped by Joe Burnett's 68-yard punt return midway through the second. That was the last lead UCF would acquire, though, and Tulsa won its first league title since 1985. Kevin Smith ran for 108 yards and a touchdown for, while Steven Moffett threw for 190 yards and a touchdown, but had two interceptions and lost two fumbles - with three of those turnovers coming in the second half.
Nov. 25, 2006 - UCF 31, UAB 22 Photo Gallery
Playing its final game at the Florida Citrus Bowl, UCF concluded the 2006 season in style, posting a 31-22 Conference USA victory over UAB. With the win, UCF ended its season with a 4-8 overall record and 3-5 in league play. Junior quarterback Kyle Israel scored on a four-yard rushing touchdown with 2:43 to play in the contest to clinch the victory for UCF. Israel completed 19-of-22 pass attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He found senior wideout Mike Walker a game-high seven times for 133 yards. The Knights led 21-3 at halftime, but the Blazers then outscored the hosts, 19-3. When Chris Felder returned a fumble by Walker 44 yards for a touchdown with 6:27 to play, UAB trailed 24-22. The Blazers went for two, but Joseph Webb's pass attempt failed. UCF accounted for 483 yards of offense for the game, with 229 coming in the first quarter. Peters rushed 19 times for 129 yards. Sophomore safety Jason Venson had a game-high 12 total tackles in the victory. The Knights recorded four sacks for a loss of 45 yards en route to closing the Citrus Bowl in style.