Nov. 5, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - It's a week of festivities that fans, alumni, students, faculty and the community look forward to every year. From current activities like Concert Knight to Spirit Splash, UCF has embraced Homecoming Week since 1980. And each season, Knight supporters cap off the events with the annual Homecoming Game.
Crowds for UCF football's Homecoming Games have been growing over time, beginning with 14,022 for the Black and Gold's 28-27 loss to Albany in 1980. Although just less than 10,000 showed up for the Knights' first homecoming win, a 17-0 shutout of Hampden-Sydney in 1981, 15,208 were dazzled by senior quarterback Darin Slack in 1987. In a 45-3 triumph vs. N.W. Missouri State, Slack went 23-for-37 for 356 yards and five touchdowns. Receiver Bernard Ford set a school record with four TD catches, while his 208 yards rank sixth in single-game history.
Two years later, another crowd of over 15,000 saw UCF trailing in the last few minutes vs. Liberty, 30-26. The Knights then drove 80 yards on a 14-play, 6:33 drive that culminated in the game-winning one-yard scoring run from quarterback Ron Johnson for the 33-30 victory.
Eventually 39,433 flocked to the Citrus Bowl to witness UCF take down Eastern Michigan, 27-10, in 1997. UCF was ahead 17-10 in the fourth quarter until tailback Mike Grant sealed the 24-10 win on a 16-yard run with 3:31 left. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper finished 17-for-23 with 243 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
When the 2000 campaign came around, an announced attendance of 25,093 went crazy when UCF scored 24 first-quarter points en route to a 55-0 trouncing of Louisiana-Monroe, the biggest victory in UCF Homecoming Game history. ULM led in time of possession, 36:35-23:25, as eight of the Knights' nine scoring drives lasting 3:01 or less, including two that took less than 10 seconds. QB Ryan Schneider amassed four touchdowns on 14-for-22 passing totals and 312 yards.
UCF's first Conference USA homecoming tilt was played before 32,635 in 2005. Meeting up with Houston, the Cougars cut it to 31-29 on a 76-yard TD reception with just 6:12 remaining in the fourth quarter. UCF used up a lot of the clock before turning it over on downs at the 1:29 mark on the Houston 45-yard line. The Knights' defense then came through, earning a sack and forcing three incompletions to preserve the win.
The excitement continued to build and took over the entire central Florida region in 2007 with the opening of Bright House Networks Stadium. Battling Marshall Nov. 3, a season-high 46,103 rocked the stadium when the Knights thumped the Thundering Herd, 47-13. The 34-point win ranked as the fourth-largest margin of victory for UCF in 28 Homecoming Games. Kevin Smith led the ground game with 29 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns, wide receiver Brian Watters had two TD catches and defensive back Darin Baldwin completed the scoring on a 37-yard interception return.
The 2008 contest against Southern Miss will be the fifth-straight year UCF's Homecoming Game will take place in the first week of November. The Knights meet the Golden Eagles Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Tickets can still be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at (407) 839-3900 or visiting Ticketmaster.com.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.