Knights Fall in Overtime Thriller to USF

Sept. 6, 2008

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - After rallying from 14 points down with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter to force overtime, UCF (1-1) fell short 31-24 to visiting No. 17/18 USF (2-0) Saturday night in front of a Bright House Networks Stadium record 46,805 fans. The Knights trailed 24-10 late in regulation before two touchdown passes from junior Michael Greco forced overtime.

With UCF trailing 31-24 in overtime after a Bulls' touchdown, the Knights' Ronnie Weaver carried three times for nine yards to set up a fourth-and-one. After a false start penalty pushed the ball back four yards, Greco scrambled across the line of scrimmage, but his rush came up just inches shy of the first-down marker to end the game.

USF had the ball first in overtime, and quarterback Matt Grothe connected to Taurus Johnson on a 25-yard touchdown on third-and-10 for the lead.

Trailing 24-17 with 1:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Greco found senior Rocky Ross for a 31-yard touchdown strike. The ensuing extra point knotted the game at 24-24. A USF three-and-out and a 35-yard punt return by senior Joe Burnett gave the Knights possession with 2:09 remaining in the fourth.

Trailing 24-10, UCF mounted their comeback with 3:24 left the fourth quarter. A four-play, 38-yard scoring drive followed a Bruce Miller interception. Greco found junior tight end Corey Rabazinski for a 13-yard touchdown completion that made it 24-17 with 2:46 on the game clock.

Greco finished the game 17-for-32 with 150 passing yards and two touchdowns. He set new career highs for completions, attempts and touchdowns.

Grothe and wide receiver Cedric Hill connected twice as the Bulls outscored the hosts 14-0 in the third quarter to open up a two touchdown cushion. Leading 17-10, Grothe engineered a 68-yard drive in just four plays and a minute and 27 seconds. He found Hill over the top for a 27-yard touchdown with 1:38 left in the period.

The Bulls charged down the field with the opening kickoff of the third quarter, scoring on a five-play, 78-yard drive that spanned two minutes and 17 seconds and gave USF a 17-10 lead. The drive was capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Grothe to Hill. Grothe completed a 46-yard pass to Carit Mitchell to set up the score.

After USF marched down the field with their opening possession of the game, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run from Moise Plancher, senior Joe Burnett immediately got the home crowd back on their feet.

Burnett returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards, sprinting down the sideline to tie the game. It was the senior's first career kickoff return touchdown and his fourth career return touchdown. The Eustis, Fla., native became the first Knight to return both a punt and a kickoff for a score in his career.

The Bulls responded, using a 42-yard pass play from Grothe to Taurus Johnson to get inside the five-yard line. The Knights' defense held USF to a 20-yard field goal from Delbert Alvarado.

The teams went into the locker room at the break knotted at 10 despite a significant advantage in total offense for USF. The Bulls gained 192 yards on 36 plays while UCF totaled 69 yards on 26 plays.

The Knights capped a 10-play, 27-yard drive with a 38-yard field goal from freshman Nick Cattoi with 2:49 remaining in the second quarter.

Sophomore Lawrence Young had a big day on defense for the Knights, totaling eight tackles, three tackles for a loss, and a sack. The Knights' defense overall had 11 tackles for a loss and two interceptions.

Grothe went 23-for-40 in the game with 346 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The junior added 54 yards on 23 carries rushing.

Following a bye week, UCF travels to Boston College on Saturday, Sept. 20, for a non-conference game against the Eagles.

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