Chaotic Ending Ruins Tigers' Chance at Upset
Oct. 5, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - In a back-and-forth affair, it was a touchdown with less than two minutes to play that lifted UCF (4-1, 1-0) to a 24-17 victory over Memphis (1-3, 0-1) on Saturday afternoon at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
After UCF tied the game up at 17-all with 2:05 to play, a fumble on the ensuing kickoff by the Tigers was recovered and returned by UCF's Drico Johnson for a touchdown to give the Knights a 24-17 victory. The Tigers tried to punch back with a kickoff return for a touchdown, by the touchdown was negated by a holding call on the return. The Tigers still tried to fight back, driving all the way down the field to the UCF eight-yard-line, where UCF intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve the win.
It was a see-saw affair from the jump, as the Memphis defense held UCF to a three-and-out on its opening drive to give the Tigers the ball at their own 33-yard line.
Freshman quarterback Paxton Lynch completed a pass to junior receiver Joe Craig for a seven-yard gain to begin the Tigers' offensive day. After a Memphis first down, Lynch found sophomore Tevin Jones for nine yards, before sophomore tight end Alan Cross caught a pass on the right side for a 26-yard completion down to the UCF 16. One play later, senior running back Brandon Hayes gave the Tigers a lead with a 16-yard touchdown run to put Memphis up 7-0 with 11:25 to go in the first quarter.
The Tigers defense continued to hold strong by forcing a turnover on downs after UCF went for it on fourth-and-seven on the Memphis 35. However, Memphis' luck would be limited, as a Lynch pass was intercepted by Jacoby Glenn and returned 33 yards to the Memphis 29. The Knights drove down to the 16 before quarterback Blake Bortles found William Stanback open in the end zone, but the ball bounced off his hands, forcing UCF to settle for a field goal with 1:46 to play in the opening quarter.
Defense limited both offenses time on the field throughout the second quarter before the Tigers were able to get a lengthy drive together with five minutes to go in the half.
Facing a fourth-and-four on their own 16, Memphis was saved thanks to a UCF substitution infraction for a first down before Lynch completed a 43-yard pass to sophomore receiver Mose Frazier down to the UCF 36 with less than three minutes to play in the half.
Memphis went to the air again with Lynch finding senior running back Jai Steib for 14 yards to the 22-yard line. After a holding penalty on the Tigers, Lynch went to Craig for a 19-yard completion inside the UCF 10. But the trip would be an empty one for the Tigers, after two plays resulted in no yardage for the Tigers and Lynch threw his second pick of the game, with Terrance Plummer coming away with the ball for the Knights in the end zone to make the score 7-3 Memphis at halftime.
Memphis opened the second half with a 13-yard pass from Lynch to junior receiver Keiwone Malone to the Tigers 45-yard line. Memphis put together three rushes for another first down before an intentional grounding penalty forced the Tigers into a second-and-20. A rush for loss and a sack would result in a punt for Memphis by senior Tom Hornsey down to the UCF nine.
The Knights didn't waste time before getting into Tiger territory as Bortles found Breshad Perriman for 32 yards before Storm Johnson rushed for 18 yards to reach the Memphis 39 midway through the third quarter.
UCF added two more first downs on the ground before a pass from Bortles to Johnson put the Knights inside the 10-yard line. Stanback then punched in UCF's first touchdown of the day with a one-yard touchdown run to cap off a 12-play, 91-yard drive and make it 10-7 with 5:48 to play in the third quarter.
The Tigers got their drive started with a 15-yard completion from Lynch to Craig before an 11-yard pass to freshman Sam Craft to get down to their own 45. Two rushes by Hayes put the Tigers into Knight territory at the 31, before the Knights held to force a Memphis field goal. Freshman kicker Jake Elliot knotted the game at 10-all with 2:19 left in the third quarter with a career-long 48 yarder into 12 mph winds.
The Memphis defense held UCF to a three-and-out to take over on its own 38. The Tigers began with a first down run by Hayes to get the drive started. Facing a fourth-and-six, a fake punt by Hornsey resulted in a 14-yard gain to keep the Tigers' drive alive. One play later, Lynch found Jones for 21 yards to reach the UCF 13. Craft then gave Memphis the lead once again with a 13-yard run for a 17-10 advantage with 12:59 to play.
Memphis' defense continued to give the Knights problems by forcing another three-and-out to give the offense the ball on their own 24-yard line.
Following a Lynch first-down run, he found Craig for 20 yards to the UCF 44 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. However, two sacks by the UCF defense forced Memphis to punt with 7:28 to play.
The Knights reached Memphis territory after a 15-yard pass from Bortles to Perriman to get to the Tigers' 43. After a run by Johnson to get another first down, UCF was faced with a fourth-and-10 from the Memphis 28. Bortles then converted the fourth down with a 16-yard pass to Perriman to reach the 12-yard line. Following an 11-yard pass to Rannell Hall to get to the Memphis one, the Knights recovered a fumble by Johnson in the end zone to tie the game with 2:05 to play.
After UCF took a 24-17 advantage, the Tigers took over on their own 25, with Lynch completing a 19-yard pass to Craft to get the drive started. A 16-yard run by Hayes gave Memphis another first down, before Lynch found Jones for 24 additional yards to put the ball at the UCF nine. On third-and-goal from the six-yard line, Plummer picked off Lynch for the second time to end the game.
Lynch finished with a career-high 279 yards on 20-for-38 passing while Hayes led the running game with 78 yards on the ground. Jones led the Memphis receivers with 63 yards on four catches. The Tigers outgained UCF in yardage, 397-270. On defense, Anthony Brown led the Tigers with seven tackles while Tank Jakes and Andrew Gaines added six apiece.
Memphis heads to Texas next Saturday when it takes on Houston at 11 a.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPNews.