Knights Notebook: UCF 23, Buffalo 17

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UCF vs. Buffalo
Sept. 19, 2009
Live from Bright House
Networks Stadium
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
BUFF 0 17 0 0 17
UCF 7 0 10 6 23

Quote of the Knight
Senior safety Derrick Hallman:
"We set our standard tonight. The bar is high and that is how we want to play every week. We came out in the second half and we put the ball down like coach preaches. [The offense and the defense] just played off each other's energy. The offense kept us off the field tonight, they made plays."

1958 Buffalo Team Honored
UCF, in conjunction with Orange County mayor Richard Crotty and Florida Citrus Sports, honored the 1958 Buffalo team that refused its invitation to the Tangerine Bowl on moral grounds over racial segregation. The Bulls were invited to the Tangerine Bowl but voted not to attend when the team's two African-American players, Willie Evans and the late Mike Wilson, were forbidden to play by the now defunct Orlando High School Athletics Association.

During a halftime ceremony on Saturday, 34 present members of the 1958 team were honored in an on-field presentation. Last year, 50 years after the Tangerine Bow bid, Buffalo made its first bowl appearance since when it faced Connecticut in the International Bowl.

One member of the 1958 team has strong ties to UCF. Gerry Gergley, one of the early leaders in UCF athletics, started both the wrestling and golf teams at UCF while also serving as the school's first strength coach.

"It provided us another opportunity to meet some very wonderful people," Evans said of the night. "They are a great inspiration to what transpires in the university community."

We'll Take That
UCF had four takeaways to spark its dominant second half and come-from-behind victory. The forced turnovers came after recording just one takeaway in the first two games of the season. The Knights had three fumble recoveries and an interception in the contest.

Senior Derrick Hallman forced the first fumble with a hard hit in the third quarter, and junior Bruce Miller fell on the loose football. Seniors Jarvis Geathers and Darius Nall combined on the second fumble, which led to Nick Cattoi's 44-yard game-tying field goal. Garvis forced the fumble with Nall grabbing the recovery.

In the fourth quarter, a Hallman interception on fourth down stopped a Bulls' drive in UCF territory. It was the team's first pick of the 2009 campaign and Hallman's third of his career.

To seal the deal with under a minute left in the game, Geathers forced his second fumble of the game with a tackle on Buffalo quarterback Zach Maynard.

Comeback Kids
The Knights won the game despite going into halftime with a 17-7 deficit. The last time UCF came from at least 10 points down at halftime to win a game was on Nov. 19, 2005 at Rice. The Owls held a 21-9 halftime lead before UCF rallied for a 31-28 victory.

Finishing It Right
After being outgained 203-92 in the opening half, UCF turned things around in the second 30 minutes. The turnaround started with the defense, which held Buffalo to just 101 yards after halftime. The Bulls' five second-half possessions resulted in three fumbles, one interception and a punt.

UCF offense was the beneficiary and showed a marked improvement, totaling 219 yards in the second half and scoring 16 points. The Knights rushed for 115 yards after halftime.

Getting Started
Senior Brett Hodges became the ninth UCF quarterback to start a game for the Knights since the program joined the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks. It was the transfer's third collegiate start after making starts against Nebraska and Army while at Wake Forest. With the victory, Hodges becomes the fourth UCF quarterback to win their first start in a Knights' jersey.

Hodges finished the game 15-for-20 for 141 yards in the game. He was also productive with his feet, scampering for 71 rushing yards on 13 carries. It was the highest rushing total for a Knight quarterback since Rob Calabrese had 86 last year against UTEP.

He's Going Streaking
Hodges completed each of his 10 pass attempts in the second half for 104 yards. The numbers included a 39-yard pass completion to Kamar Aiken on UCF's third-quarter touchdown drive and a 5-for-5 effort when UCF connected on the game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

"I felt comfortable getting into the flow of the game," Hodges said. "I was running a little bit and then the line gave great protection so we started making plays in the air too. When you are doing that as an offense it makes us hard to stop. I was a little amped up for this first start. I was trying not to do anything differently but had a couple of mental errors early that I need to eliminate. The good thing is I have playmakers around me, and the offensive line did a heck of a job today, especially in the second half."

No Place Like Home
Sophomore Brynn Harvey has felt at home at Bright House Networks Stadium this season, scoring four touchdowns in the Knights' two home games. He just missed his second 100-yard game on the ground in as many home games, finishing with 98 yards on 25 carries. Harvey has 209 yards on 56 carries in the games against Samford and Buffalo.

"I just follow the offensive line. It all comes from the line," Harvey said. "I am just running the ball and finding the holes."

Reaching a Milestone
Tonight's game marked the 150th as a head coach for George O'Leary. In his 13th season as a head coach, O'Leary now has an 80-70 career record. The win was the sixth-year head coach's 28th at the helm of the Knights' program.

Switching Sides
Senior Michael Greco made his first career start as a defensive back tonight, becoming the third UCF player under O'Leary to start on both sides of the ball. Greco started four games at quarterback in 2008. The other two players to start on both offense and defense were Brandon Marshall and Mike Walker in 2004. Both players now play in the NFL as receivers for the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars respectively.

Greco did not disappoint in his first start on defense, tallying a career-high eight tackles to tie for the team lead, including six in the opening half.

Special Recognition
Head coach George O'Leary selects a player from the offense and the defense each week as the team's captains. For tonight's game, the captains were senior Ian Bustillo on offense and Greco on defense. Coach O'Leary also tabs two members of the scout team as the players of the week. Michael Dominguez and Marquee Williams earned the distinction this week.

Champions Invade
Buffalo is the first defending conference champion to ever play UCF at Bright House Networks Stadium. The Bulls won the Mid-American Conference championship in 2008 and played in the International Bowl against Connecticut.

Other Notes
UCF improved to 6-1 all-time against Buffalo...The Knights have won each of the five meetings in Orlando...The Knights' had a 14-play, 59-yard scoring drive last 8:39 in the fourth quarter, marking the second-straight game UCF has had a scoring drive of over eight minutes...Jamar Newsome had a team-high six catches for 37 yards...The 39-yard reception by Aiken was the longest play from scrimmage for UCF this season...The Knights' defense held Buffalo scoreless in three of four quarters.