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Grothe Does it All in Another Comeback

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By **** Scanlon

The Ledger

ORLANDO -- Matt Grothe contributed 302 passing yards, 73 rushing yards, three touchdown passes and a well-timed one-liner to South Florida's 2417 victory over Central Florida on Saturday.

The freshman quarterback from Lakeland had led the Bulls to a 17-10 lead that looked safe until a blocked punt and Blake Carter's 31-yard return had tied it for UCF with 7:14 remaining.

That's when Grothe reached for his joke.

"It just popped into my head because they said `TV timeout' and we were just standing there and I thought this would probably be a good time," he said.

"I said it and I said it perfect: `Let's put the women and children to bed and go get some (cuss-word) dinner.' Everybody started laughing and I called the play, and we went out there and drove down and scored."

Grothe completed 4-of-5 passes on the game-winning drive, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Ean Randolph with 3:20 left. He also had runs of 26 and 12 yards.

USF (3-0) held on for its second straight victory over UCF (1-2) before a crowd of 46,708, the third-largest ever for a Golden Knights home game. The Bulls have come from behind in all three of their victories, and behind Grothe in each of them.

"I thought we knocked him out after the first half," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "He was laying there for a while. Tough kid. I give him credit."

UCF, which was never down by more than seven points, drove back down to the USF 10yard line late in the game, but Chris Robinson sacked Steven Moffett on a fourth-down play with 22 seconds left.

Grothe completed 21-of-31 passes and ran 21 times, including five sacks that cost him a 100-yard rushing game. The Bulls gained 433 yards of total offense, most of it by Grothe and Randolph, the former Webber player who caught five passes for 126 yards.

USF dominated the first quarter with the help of two interceptions by Trae Williams.

The first one ended UCF's 12play opening drive and set up the Bulls at their 21. Grothe's first pass went to Randolph for 51 yards, and five plays later he threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Edwards for a 7-0 lead.

After another Williams interception and an exchange of punts, USF drove from its 1-yard line to a third-and-9 at the UCF 36. Grothe found Randolph across the middle on a pass that could have gone for a touchdown, but his pass was a little high and Randolph couldn't bring it in.

The Bulls punted, and the game turned sharply in favor of the Knights.

Moffett converted two thirddown passes to Mike Walker on a 79-yard drive that got UCF on the board. Michael Torres' 22yard field goal made it 7-3.

Moffett's 37-yard TD pass to Willie Thornton gave UCF a 10-7 lead -- and tons of momentum -- with 2:15 left in the half. But the momentum was squandered when Carter roughed USF punter Delbert Alvarado, enabling the Bulls to run out the first-half clock deep in their own territory.

"Before the game, I told them to play hard, play together, play smart and play to win," O'Leary said. "I thought we did all of them except play smart in certain situations, both offensively, defensively and the kicking game, with some penalties that you can't have."

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