Knights Notebook: UCF 21, Marshall 20

Nov. 2, 2009

Recap | Final Stats | Quotes | AP Photo Gallery | Photo Gallery

By Andrew Gavin

UCF vs. Marshall
Nov. 1, 2009
Live from Bright House
Networks Stadium
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Marshall 0 17 3 0 20
UCF 0 7 0 14 21

Quote of the Knight
Junior linebacker Derrick Hallman
"The locker room was very emotional. This is the best game I have ever been a part of. What a big comeback. We have been down 10 before at half, but nothing has been bigger than this. The end of the game drive was a great catch by Rocky [Ross] and a great play call. It was great plays all game, and the defense just never quit."

No Quit in these Knights
Showing the same never quit attitude they have put on display all season, UCF rallied from a 17-7 halftime deficit. They also trailed 20-7 when they got the ball with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter. While it was nothing new for a team which now has five wins season despite having held a halftime lead only once, this comeback was even more significant.

"I think it is a big win from the standpoint of the players having a never-say-die attitude and playing hard for sixty minutes. I thought the players hung in there and played with great attitude, effort and enthusiasm. As far as the players enjoying themselves, that is the loudest I have heard the locker room after a win since I have been here. I think that does wonders for the chemistry of the football team."

Still in the fight for a conference championship, the fourth-quarter comeback may be a moment that is looked at as a turning point as this season rolls on. While the win did not look probable with the scoreboard reading 20-7 in the fourth quarter, it should not be surprising for those that have followed UCF football this season.

UCF now has four second-half comeback victories on the season, and Sunday marked the second the team's second time the team has rallied from down by double digits. The Knights also trailed Buffalo 17-7 at halftime on Sept. 19, and that contest was the first since Nov. 19, 2005 in which UCF had rallied back from a double-digit deficit.

For the season, UCF has now outscored its opponents 124-66 in the second half.

"They were up on us and we kept fighting," said Torrell Troup. "Towards the end we fought even harder and came out with the victory. Like coach says, we have to fight for sixty minutes and never give up because you do not know what play is going to change the game."

Miller Time
Chants of BRUUUUUCE could be heard all over Bright House Networks Stadium Sunday night. While the offense made the final play to give the Knights the victory, it was junior Bruce Miller's incredible play from his defensive end position that kept giving the UCF offense chances. Late in the fourth quarter, with Marshall just one yard from a probable game-clinching first down with just over two minutes remaining, Miller stripped Marshall quarterback Brian Anderson and gave UCF one last opportunity for the win.

For good measure, Miller finished the game with style as well, sacking Anderson on the game's final play to put one last mark on the key C-USA victory. For Miller, he was just continuing to do what he had been doing all night, all season and for all of his UCF career. He finished the game with a team-high 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss.

With his 2.5 sacks, Miller now has nine sacks in 2009 and 23 for his three-year career. The sack total puts him alone in fifth place all-time in the UCF record books, passing both Michael O'Shaughnessy and Bobby Spitulski.

Adding three tackles for loss, Miller also raised his numbers to 11.5 in 2009 and 37.5 in his career. The junior now ranks eighth all-time in that category.

He also passed teammate Jarvis Geathers for the C-USA lead in both sacks and tackles for loss this season. The Knight duo ranks one-two in the conference in both statistics.

"He is just an exceptional player," said head coach George O'Leary. "Like every good pass rusher, they are always really good second effort players. He came to the sideline saying just hold them up and I'll get them out, and he did."

Join the Club
Senior quarterback Brett Hodges had one of the best passing games in recent UCF history Sunday night. After an inauspicious 0-for-6 start, Hodges caught fire in directing the Knights' offense. He completed 23 of his last 39 attempts and concluded the game with 342 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Hodges becomes the first UCF quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a game since Kyle Israel totaled 314 yards against East Carolina on Oct. 6, 2007. The 342 yards passing are also the most by a Knight signal caller since Ryan Schneider's school record 497 yards against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 13, 2003.

Hodges did not play favorites, distributing the ball to seven different players. The quarterback helped the team's three starting wide receivers - Rocky Ross, A.J. Guyton and Kamar Aiken - combined for 16 catches and 238 yards.

While the numbers for Hodges are gaudy, it is the Wake Forest transfer's toughness and leadership that may be more impressive. The senior was sacked three times in the game and hit the deck due to pressure by the Marshall defense multiple times.

"He is a tough kid," said O'Leary. "He got hit a couple times and I looked to him to make sure he was okay. He said `Coach, I am alright' and waved me off. He is a tough kid and that is contagious for the other players. The rest of the team looked to him and saw how hard he was playing. He made plays when he had to make them."

The Unmovable Object
John Denton of UCFAthletics.com penned Friday that the game would mark a battle between the unmovable object (UCF's defense) vs. the unstoppable force (Marshall running back Darius Marshall). UCF entered the game with the top rushing defense in C-USA and the ninth-ranked in the country. Marshall ranked second nationally in rushing at 136.0 yards per game on the ground. The battle did not disappoint, with both having the upper hand at times.

The Thundering Herd running back gave Marshall a 17-7 lead in the second quarter with a three-yard scamper and also went over 1,000 yards in the game, but in the end it was the Knights' defense that held the upper hand, both on the scoreboard and on the stat sheet.

Darius Marshall ended the game with a season-low 80 yards on 28 carries, an average of 2.9 yards per rush. UCF is just the third defense this season to hold the running back to under 100 yards on the ground.

"I have always talked about the inside dominance that we have with Travis [Timmons] and Torrell [Troup] and Corey [Hogue], Lawrence [Young] and Derrick Hallman," said Miller about the ability to stop the run. "Those guys are awesome inside and they put so much pressure on the middle that they make them run laterally. We just run to the ball and get them to the ground."

100-Plus Yet Again
A.J. Guyton caught five passes for 100 yards tonight. Coupled with his 103 yards in last week's win at Rice, it marks the first time that a Knight has had 100-yard receiving effort in consecutive games since 2006 when Rocky Ross had 135 at Memphis on Nov. 11 and 124 at Tulane on Nov. 18. It is Guyton's third 100-yard receiving effort of the year, the most by a Knight since current Jacksonville Jaguar Mike Walker had five in 2006. Guyton also posted 119 receiving yards at East Carolina on Sept. 26.

Kamar's Catches
With his four-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, junior Kamar Aiken tallied his 10th career TD. The Hollywood, Fla. native had four touchdowns as a freshman, one as a sophomore and now has four as a junior in 2009. Aside from his first-half touchdown, Aiken had four catches in the second half and finished the contest with five receptions for 62 yards.

Other Notes
Along with the game-winning touchdown catch, senior Rocky Ross had a team-high six receptions in the game... The Knights had 400 yards of total offense tonight for the third time in the last four games. Last year, the Knights did not eclipse 400 yards of total offense once...Freshman CB Josh Robinson intercepted a pass for the third time in the past four games...UCF is now 5-3 for the third time in five years...UCF is 7-4 in its last 11 games overall...UCF is now 5-0 vs. Marshall since the two schools joined C-USA...UCF is 12-5 in November since 2005, the Knights' most wins in any month of the calendar over that span... Scout Team Players of the Week were WR Austin Hudson (offense), LB Jack Carter (defense) and Victor Gray (special teams).