Knights Insider UCF-Memphis Recap


Oct. 3, 2009

Final Stats | Quotes | Notes | Photo Gallery

By John Denton

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Just minutes after UCF had just completed its third come-from-behind victory of the season at Bright House Networks Stadium, jubilant Knights players huddled around coach George O'Leary and chanted ``One more step!" in unison.

Following a frustrating loss at East Carolina where the Knights played well but sabotaged the effort with mistakes, UCF took the necessary steps on Saturday for a runaway 32-14 defeat of Memphis before 40,408 fans.

UCF (3-2 overall and 1-2 in Conference USA play) rallied this time by finishing drives offensively, pressuring the quarterback, forcing turnovers and eliminating the mistakes. The theme in practice all week was to take ``One more step,'' a phrase that had both literal and physical meanings.

``We've been so close all season and the coaches had been talking to us about making one more play, one more step,'' said defensive end Bruce Miller, who had 2.5 sacks and five tackles. ``Today we made that one more step in the game and it really paid off for us.''

UCF took some big steps offensively, getting two second-half touchdown passes from senior quarterback Brett Hodges and a career-rushing day from sophomore tailback Brynn Harvey. The play of Hodges and Harvey, combined with some stellar line play, allowed UCF's offense to roll up a whopping 475 yards, 28 first downs and 39 minutes of time of possession.

The dominant second-half performance sent UCF into its bye week with some feel-good momentum. And the third consecutive home victory gave the Knights some confidence before hosting in-state foe Miami on Oct. 17.

``We need every win, but we really needed this win,'' said tight end Ricky Kay, who replaced injured starter Corey Rabazinski and caught four passes for 52 yards and a go-ahead touchdown. ``This was a must-win that keeps us in contention in the conference and keeps our morale really high.''

Memphis (1-4, 0-2) led 14-9 late in the third quarter when senior quarterback Will Hudgens replaced starter Tyler Bass and hit DajLeon Farr for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

But Hodges responded with quite possibly the most important drive of the season for the Knights. He capped the 92-yard drive - the longest of the season - by hitting Kay for a 7-yard score on the final play of the third quarter to put UCF up 15-14.

Hodges, who passed for 214 yards and wasn't sacked, found Jamar Newsome for a 22-yard score with 7:28 to play to put UCF up 22-14. Hodges said he's pleased that UCF seems to be a stronger team in the second half of games, but he's still waiting for the day when the team puts four quarters together.

``That's sort of our identity as a second-half team, but I don't know if we can get away with that all the time,'' Hodges said. ``We just have to keep working on finishing drives. We start finishing drives with the defense that we have holding teams to 14 points, there are going to be a lot of wins ahead for this program.''

Harvey did the rest of the work, carrying the ball 42 times for 219 yards - both career highs. It was the fourth-highest total of carries in a game in school history and the sixth-best total for rushing yards. His 25-yard touchdown sprint with 41 seconds remaining sealed the victory for the Knights.

``We had some wide receivers down today and coach said that we were going to run the ball a lot so I was ready,'' Harvey said. ``I just felt like if I went out there and opened up the run game with some good runs it would open things up for our passing game, too.''

Factor in Nick Cattoi's four field goals - tying another school record - and a UCF defense that garnered three sacks and two interceptions and it was just the kind of complete victory that the Knights needed. By finally putting it all together, they indeed took ``one more step.''

``Whether it was on offense, defense or in the kicking game, we stressed to them to take one more step and finish plays,'' O'Leary said. ``We did a much better job of blocking and tackling. The lecture at halftime was to not go to people, but through them. I thought we did a much better job of that.''

John Denton's Knights Insider runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on UCFAthletics.com. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.