UCF Football Anniversary - Memorable Home Games

Sept. 24, 2008

The 2008 campaign marks the 30th season of football at UCF. Since the program's inaugural season in 1979, UCF fans have witnessed dozens of memorable home contests, including some of the game's listed below.

Sept. 29, 1979 - UCF 7, Fort Benning 6
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 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 fourth-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, but could not take the lead.

Nov. 28, 1987 - UCF 12, Indiana University (Pa.) 10
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.). After 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 Slack found Bernard Ford for a 56-yard touchdown play to give the hosts the advantage for good.

Sept. 17, 1988 - UCF 26, Troy 18
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 the 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 midway through the third quarter when a trick play that saw Shane Willis pitch to Sean Beckton who sailed a 21-yard touchdown strike to fellow receiver Arnell Spencer. The crowd got into game, helping the defense snuff Troy'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 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. Instead of helping Troy, the referee called a delay of game penalty, thwarting the drive after just seven yards gained. On the next drive, Gil Barnes' one-yard plunge nine-seconds into the fourth quarter gave the Knights a 19-18 advantage.

Nov. 17, 1990 - UCF 63, Texas Southern 6
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 threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to 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.

Dec. 1, 1990 - UCF 52, William & Mary 38
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. Ron Johnson found Sea Beckton for a 67-yard touchdown at the start of the game, 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
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. He 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
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.

Dec. 3, 2005 - Tulsa 44, UCF 27
The 2005 Conference USA Championship game not only was the first in league history, but it also set the record for most fans to 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.

Sept. 15, 2007 - Texas 35, UCF 32
Ignore the final score. The inaugural game at Bright House Networks Stadium was one to remember for the Knights and UCF's fans. UCF, behind 149 yards on the ground from Kevin Smith, battled the No. 6 Longhorns to the wire. The Knights led 24-23 after an early fourth quarter touchdown run from Kyle Israel, but Texas responded with 13 points to pull away. As the Knights ran off the field following the game, UCF's fans applauded their team for the performance. The cheering also applied to the day itself. For the first time in school history, the Knights played a game at their own stadium on campus.

Dec. 1, 2007 - UCF 44, Tulsa 25
UCF capped off a memorable inaugural campaign at Bright House Networks Stadium in fine fashion, running past Tulsa for a 44-25 victory in the Conference USA Championship game. Kevin Smith had 284 yards on the ground and four touchdowns to propel the Knights to the first league championship in school history. He also moved into second place behind Barry Sanders on the NCAA's single-season rushing register. With the win, UCF earned a berth in the prestigious AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

- Doug Richards