UCF wins Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl, defeat Ball State University

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Todd Drexler / UCF Athletics

ST. PETERSBURG —  University of Central Florida’s sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles waited till the last game of the season to have his best night as a Knight.

Bortles was 22-32 for 271 yards through the air along with 79 yards on the ground with 4 total touchdowns as he lead UCF to a 38-17 victory against the Ball State Cardinals in their first bowl win since the 2010 season in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl at Tropicana Field in front of 21,759 in attendance.

“I thought Blake played extremely well, especially with his feet, and with his arm making quick decisions I thought that was the difference in the game offensively,” said head coach George O’Leary on the MVP of the game.

UCF got started quickly, scoring on the first possession of the game going on a 13 play 78-yard drive culminating in an 8 yard touchdown pass from Bortles to senior running back Latavious Murray on a play where Bortles made two defenders miss tackles before finding Murray in the endzone.

“Blake played outstanding tonight. He found me on the two check downs which got me two touchdowns so you know he really opened up the passing game and with that the running game,” said Murray.

After a Ball State three and out, the Knights continued to add to their lead with a pass interference call in the endzone on the Cardinals giving UCF the ball on the Ball State 2 yard line. Murray was able to pound the ball into the endzone for his second score of the game.

The Cardinals were able to catch a break when senior Brandon Newman was able to block the point after attempt.

Ball State was finally able to get on the scoreboard on the first drive of the second quarter. Taking advantage of a 15 yard personal foul on UCF that bailed the Cards out of a sack by Troy Davis. Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning was able to find receiver Willie Snead in the front corner pylon for their first score of the game.

The Knights set up their next score on the feet of Bortles who ran for 32 of UCF’s 69 yards on the drive finishing with a 8 yard scamper into the endzone dragging two Cardinal defenders with him for the score. After the score O’Leary chose to make up for the blocked PAT, converting on a 2-point conversion on a pass from Bortles to Dontravius Floyd.

“There were a couple of passes where they dropped eight guys and only rushed three so it was hard to find holes in their defense and my offensive line did a great job of opening up seams for me to run. They drove people out of there and when they do that its either check down or take off,” said Bortles.

After a shanked kick by Ball State kicker Steven Schott, UCF took possession of the ball on their own 20 yard line with less than two minutes in the first half.

On the third play of the drive Bortles hit freshman Breshad Perriman for a 45 yard pass to put them in field goal range. A few plays later Murray was on the receiving end of another touchdown pass from Bortles to give the Knights a 28-7 lead going into halftime.

Ball State was able to get a field goal on its next possession and from then on out it was the UCF offense’s show as they continued to extend their lead. Following a failed onside kick attempt by the Cardinals, the Knights were able to drive 50 yards in just seven plays capping the drive with a yet another Bortles touchdown pass this time to sophomore receiver JJ Worton.

Notes

The win gave the Knights a 10 win season for the fourth time in school history.

Senior Quincy McDuffie leads the country in kick return yards with an average of 34.24 yards per return.

UCF and BSU last met in a 24-27 win for the Cardinals in Muncie.

UCF is now 2-3 in bowl games while Ball State is 0-6.

With Blake Bortles 3 touchdowns in the game he became the only quarterback in UCF history to throw for at least 2 touchdowns in 10 games in a season.

Bortles also became the first 3,000 yard passer since 2002.

Running back Latavius Murray moved into second place all time in UCF history for rushing touchdowns in a career with 40.

This Knight team tied the school record for forced fumbles in a season with 19.

They also scored more touchdowns than any team in school history with 67.