By Anthony Caruso III
Posted: November 16th, 2013 at 6:45 pm EST
Philadelphia, PA – The No. 15th/19th UCF Knights rarely travel north in November.
The Orlando-based team has typically went to warm weather cities in the month over the years when they are not playing at home. But that was not the case on Saturday, as the Knights had to face the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
The 8-1 Knights would survive with a field goal, as time expired, to beat the 1-9 Owls, 39-36.
“I told the players when they go to church tomorrow, make sure they’re in the front pew,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary. “Somebody’s looking out for them. That’s why you never, never give up. That’s the resiliency of the team. It worked out well. It’s a good win. It’s not the prettiest of wins. But we made some big-time plays at the end of that game.”
This was the furthest trip north for the Knights in November in nearly a decade. The last trip that was further than going to Philadelphia was to Ball State in Muncie, Indiana in 2004.
The Knights, who went winless that season, lost the game 21-14. The Cardinals would win one more game on the season after beating the Knights that year.
Much like that 2004 game, the Knights nearly lost this game. But they were saved with a long completion with 19 seconds left that set up the game-winning field goal. Knights kicker Shawn Moffitt connected on a 23-yard field goal with 0:00 left on the clock, as his teammates and coaching staff celebrated.
“I’ve never had one before,” Moffitt said of his game-winning field goal. “I’m glad I got the opportunity. My holder, my snapper … I love them. They all picked me up afterward. It was just a great feeling.”
The Knights tied up the game at 36 when wide receiver J.J. Worton made a diving reception on a pass from quarterback Blake Bortles. Worton’s 30-yard catch is already being regarded as the catch of the year, and should be on the SportsCenter Top 10.
“Honestly it’s a blur right now to me,” said Worton after the game. “Everyone is talking about it. I’ll have to see if on film to remember it. I remember I caught it and after that everyone else was yelling and crazy. All glory to God right now. I couldn’t be more happy with the team right now. It’s a great day for UCF.”
Worton also caught a 38-yard touchdown with 6:37 left in the quarter to give the Knights a 29-28 lead. Temple would make it 36-29 after PJ Walker hit Chris Parthemore for a 7-yard touchdown, before the two would connect again on the two-point conversion.
Temple went up 28-22 when Robby Anderson caught a 75-yard touchdown from Walker. This touchdown gave Walker 339 passing yards at the time, which gave him his first 300-yard passing game of his young career.
Much like the end of the game, Moffitt would connect on a field goal to end the first half. Moffitt would make a 35-yard field goal to give the Knights a 22-21 lead going into the break.
Walker, who went 26 of 44 for 382 yards and four touchdown passes, would have two touchdown passes in the second quarter, as he threw a 32-yard reception to Jamie Gilmore, then would hit Anderson, who had 8 receptions for a 184 yards and two touchdowns, for a 30-yard touchdown. He would also add a 3-yard run in the quarter, as well.
“I told (the media) I would try to make it exciting this year and we’ll try to get better, and it certainly is exciting at the end of these games,” said Temple head coach Matt Rhule. “I was hoping that we would come out on the winning end, so obviously I’m completely disappointed. It’s just a shame how that game ended. I thought we did a great job on third down early which allowed us to be in the game. I thought P.J. (Walker) made some fantastic plays. Robby Anderson was tremendous. I thought our defense made some stops in the third quarter, but at the end of the game we couldn’t stop them under two minutes which has been a struggle for us all year long.”
The Knights would just score two touchdowns in the second. Bortles, who went 27 of 38 for 404 yards and four touchdown passes, threw a 49-yard pass to running back William Stanback and also a 4-yard pass to Worton, who had 10 receptions for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
The Knights had a 5-0 lead in the first quarter. Troy Gray tackled Temple running back Zaire Williams in the end zone for a safety, then Moffitt connected on a 20-yard field goal.
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