The FIU upset in front of the home crowd came as a total shock to the 39,184 announced fans in attendance. It was not only that UCF had lost its first home opener in eight years, or that it had happened to a program not generally considered to be a national powerhouse. It was the final plays leading up to it and the decisions behind them.
In the past few years Knights fans have become accustomed to last minute victories, miracle wins that eased the torture of a close game. The final minute of the season’s first game fit the bill perfectly for another comeback win as Justin Holman and company marched 51 yards down the field to set up first and ten from the FIU 23 yard line.
Rather than attempt extra yards through the air, George O’Leary went with the safer, tried and true method of running the clock out to set up the go-ahead field goal with no time for the Panthers to retaliate. Of course, he could not have foreseen the false start penalty or blocked kick that would seal the loss.
Hindsight is 20/20.
To many fans, this method of playcalling was unacceptable – obvious by the barrage of outraged screams directed toward the sideline as the loss unfolded in front of their eyes.
One fan took to social media to write his fellow compatriots a note of hope, a message of understanding their pain and a plea to look forward.