Knights lose 10-point halftime lead


Mike Gramajo / Valencia Voice

Rannell Hall, No. 6, had 142 yards receiving and caught two touchdowns in the Knights 28-25 loss to South Carolina.

ORLANDO — Dylan Thompson went 15-32 passing for 261 yards in relief of an injured Connor Shaw, helping lead the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks to a 28-25 comeback victory over the University of Central Florida Knights on Saturday in front of a sell out crowd of 47,605 at Bright House Networks Stadium.

South Carolina running back Mike Davis had himself a big game against UCF, rushing for 167 yards and three touchdown on 26 carries, all of which came in the second half when the Gamecocks mounted their comeback.

“Give their running back credit,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary about Davis after the game. “I think he’s a great running back and he made a lot of people miss tackles.”

UCF started the game on the right foot, as the Knights got on the scoreboard during their first drive of the game when Storm Johnson capped a 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, putting UCF up 7-0 early over South Carolina.

On South Carolina’s UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer forced a Marcus Shaw fumble on the Gamecocks opening drive, which resulted in Shaw leaving the game with a shoulder sprain. Shaw would not return to the game, leaving Thompson to lead the South Carolina offense for the remainder of the game.

The Knights kicked a field goal in the second quarter, giving them a 10-0 lead at halftime, but the Gamecocks scored 28-unanswered points in the second half to jump out to a 28-10 lead with 10:31 remaining in regulation time.

“I watch for body language. I think they were really annoyed at themselves,” said O’Leary about the atmosphere on his team’s sideline following the 28 unanswered points. “They saw the opportunities there when they don’t make a play.”

South Carolina out-gained UCF 220-32 in the third quarter with Davis running for 84 of the 220 yards.

Rannell Hall caught back-to-back Blake Bortles touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, helping the Knights put together a comeback of their own late in the game. UCF’s comeback fell short when the Gamecocks recovered the onside kick and returned it for 31 yards.

Bortles finished the game 25-36 passing for 358 yards and two touchdowns but the redshirt junior also threw his first two interceptions of the season, as well as his first lost fumble.

“We had a good game plan,” said Bortles following the game. “We did some good things, just turned the ball over too many times.

“We expected to win the game, we thought we were good enough to play with them and deserved to win the game.” added Bortles.

Gamecocks star defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney ended the game with two total tackles and no sacks.

UCF’s crowd of 47,605 was good enough for the programs second highest attended game at Bright House Networks Stadium, behind the 48,453 fans that were in attendance for the 2009 game against Miami.

The Knights will now prepare to travel to Memphis, Tenn. next Saturday to start American Athletic Conference (AAC) play against the Memphis Tigers. UCF will go into it’s first conference game with a 3-1 record, which includes a win over Penn State.

“Right now Memphis in our mind is ranked,” said Bortles about the team’s next opponent. “That’s how we have to play week in and week out.”

Kickoff for UCF vs. Memphis is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST, with the game being shown on ESPN 3.