The Golden Hurricanes edged the Knights in overtime 33-27, beating them for the second time in three weeks.
The loss will result in the Knights going to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl on Dec.21, while Tulsa, the new C-USA champion, will head to the Liberty bowl. The Knights started the game, held in Tulsa, with a fumble on the opening kickoff by All-American candidate Quincy McDuffie.
Tulsa shredded the Knights with slants and corner routes all day, taking yardage in chunks. The Knights played this game a lot more aggressively than they did two weeks ago when they lost to Tulsa 23-21, however the Knights costly mistakes was eventually the prevailing point of the game.
UCF took their first lead of the game on third and goal, after a botched trick play involving three former and current UCF quarterbacks. Bortles managed to find McDuffie in the end zone to give the Knights their first lead of the day at 14-7.
The lead would not last long however, as the Knights allowed the Golden Hurricane to score two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the half. Tulsa marched 75 yards in 2 minutes and 8 seconds, on only rushing plays, to tie the game at 14-14.
George O’Leary showed, yet again, his uncanny ability to the coach the Knights into a hole. Highly suspect clock management skills, O’Leary’s specialty, handed the ball back to Tulsa with one minute and two timeouts left.
Tulsa aired things out on this drive, putting the ball on the two yard line with two seconds left after a 32 yard pass to Roberson. Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship displayed his cojones when opting to go for the touchdown instead of the guaranteed points and his wager paid a seven point dividend. Ja’Tarien Douglas hammered his way in for a touchdown just as the clock expired, giving the Golden Hurricane a 21-14 lead going into half.
UCF nearly tied the game on a one yard touchdown from Murray but the extra point was blocked, leaving the Knights down 21-20. UCF receiver Rob Calabrese hawked Tulsa DB Marco Nelson like a tracking dog when Nelson picked up the blocked kick with nothing but daylight ahead of him. Calabrese closed in and made a shoe string tackle around the UCF 15 to stop Tulsa from swiping a two point conversation.
UCF retook the lead on a 28-yard scramble up the middle from Bortles. On 3rd and 6, Bortles shifted around the pocket, saw a seam and weaved beautifully through the defense to put the Knights ahead 27-21.
The Golden Hurricanes sent the game to overtime on an extremely costly mistake by the Knights. The Knights, punting the ball deep in their own territory, tipped the ball before it rolled onto the turf. One game official called the ball dead, and the Knights started to walk away from the play, however, NCAA rules state that the ball was live. Tulsa’s Trey Watts picked up the ball and ran 54 yards to tie the game 27-27.
The Knights responded by blocking the PAT, eventually sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Knights couldn’t capitalize on their first drive, with their field goal being blocked. Tulsa, had a string of solid plays that eventually led to punching the ball in to win 33-27.
What you need to know for the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl:
-Held in St.Pete on Dec. 21 at 7:30p.m. EST at Tropicana Field.
-Will be televised on ESPN, opponent will be a Big East team.
-Available tickets on Ticketmaster are ranging anywhere from $42.75 to $62.75.
Eric Py also contributed to this story