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UCF paper: "Bulls QB runs through, passes over..."

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From the Central Florida Future

Bulls QB runs through, passes over UCF 'D'

By: Brian Murphy

The last two games for the UCF Golden Knights have carried a lot of pain. Last week's trip to Gainesville was a ruthless beating. But Saturday's loss to South Florida was torturous, like taking a carrot peeler to the bottom of your foot.

"This hurts more than last week's loss," quarterback Steven Moffett said. "In last week's loss, in the second quarter, we were down 35-0. In this game, we were in it for the whole game.

"When you knew you had a chance, it is going to hurt a little bit more."

UCF lost because…

They made too many mistakes in every facet of the game.

Coach George O'Leary said that he told his team before the game to play hard, play smart, play together and play to win. He said that his team followed those guidelines, except to play smart.

The Knights had seven penalties for 60 yards on the day. The Knights had three turnovers, their first three on the season. Moffett threw two interceptions and was very inconsistent for the game, completing just 43 percent of his passes.

The Knights' defensive front couldn't stop the rushing ability of USF quarterback Matt Grothe. The pass defense did not make the plays they should have on certain passes. On the game-winning touchdown, O'Leary said "that ball's in the air, you could have said the rosaries. You got to make plays on balls like that."

And in special teams, the Knights' kicker missed a field goal from 35 yards away.

USF won because…

Grothe was a one-man wrecking crew. He threw for 302 yards on the day, establishing a new USF freshman record. Grothe was the antithesis of Moffett with his accuracy. Grothe completed 68 percent of his throws and threw three touchdowns.

Grothe was also the Bulls' leading rusher, netting 73 yards on 21 carries. Most of those rushes came with Grothe carving right through the middle of the Knights' line on draws, play after play.

Turning point…

Momentum seemed to change hands numerous times, but at the very end the Knights found themselves one play away. Even more, they were just one extra second away. With just one more second of pass protection, maybe Moffett would have found receiver Mike Walker, who was open in the end zone on their last play of the game.

But a blocker lost his protection assignment, Moffett pump faked with the ball one too many times and he was sacked to effectively end the game. That one extra second of hesitation combined with that one fewer second of protection turned out to be the ultimate difference.

Honorable mentions…

For the Knights, it has to go out to senior running back Jason Peters, who got the start for suspended starting back, Kevin Smith.

"Like Coach says, when they call your number you got to be ready because everybody is an ankle (injury) away," Peters said.

Peters did the most with his chance by carrying the ball a career-high 20 times for 98 yards. Even though he did not find out that he would be the starter until Friday night, Peters turned in the best performance by a UCF running back in this young season.

USF's Ean Randolph was known more for his return skills than his receiving skills coming into Saturday. He was the co-leader in the nation in punt return yardage and had only caught five passes in the Bulls' first two games.

But Randolph matched that total in this game alone and more than tripled his offensive output on the year, racking up 126 yards and scoring the game-winning score with 3:20 left.

Extra motivation?

They say talk is cheap, but in sports, it seems as if some talk can be worth a lot. In the case of the Bulls, talk from some Orlando media members may have been worth a USF victory.

"I'm tired of people trying to attack our guys," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "I was disappointed in some things I read Thursday out of the Orlando paper and our guys took offense to it. We're not a bunch of renegades.

"And I promise you that helped us. They really fired our guys up, because our team knows who they are. And nobody thought we'd have much of a shot today."

What does it all mean?

The Knights have a lot to work on. The entire defense has had three unimpressive games.

The offensive line played better on Saturday, but not quite to the level that has been set for them. The kicking game has struggled as Michael Torres has missed a couple of reasonable field goals.

In their three games, the Knights were satisfactory against Villanova, got blasted by Florida and lost to a big rival with nearly 47,000 fans behind them.

"It's a bad feeling because you feel like you let your people down," senior defensive end Chris Welsh said. "I put so much on our fans and credit them so much with how we play.

"I want to win for this team and for this football program, but it goes far beyond that. You want to win for your school."

The clichés are easy to believe when it comes to the Knights. They play hard. They play to win. They play as a team. But right now, their results are a far cry from their effort.

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Hey, at least this year their editor didn't make a bet with ours and then welch on it by leaving early from the asswhipping.

Yeah, Burns, I'm talking about you.

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