Let Down

The 27-7 score wasn't indicative of the talent levels between Miami and UCF as the Knights were able to hang with the Hurricanes through most of the game. However, two failed trips deep inside the opponent's territory ultimately turned the tide of the game and prevented the Knights from hanging tough with Miami for four quarters.

If there was ever a time that UCF (3-3, 1-2) had a chance to pull off an upset against a top 10 team, this was it. The Knights had plenty of opportunities to beat the banged up Miami Hurricanes (4-1, 2-1) in front of a record-setting crowd of 48,453 people at Bright House Networks Stadium. In the end though, the same problems of converting plays in the red zone prevented the Knights from beating ninth-ranked Miami as UCF lost 27-7.

"I thought we had opportunities that we didn't take advantage of, made some mistakes there and we left our defense with too many plays on the field," said UCF head coach, George O'Leary. "I felt we did not do a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities we were given. It was definitely frustrating seeing the offensive side of the ball come up short and not being able to put points up on the board."

The red zone woes that have plagued the Knights all season popped up early. The team moved the ball down the field on its first offensive series but Nick Cattoi was not able to make a 32-yard field goal.

The discrepancy in overall speed and athleticism between both teams became evident during Miami's second series. The Hurricanes' receivers repeatedly blew by UCF's secondary and quarterback Jacory Harris easily found an open player on every passing attempt, going five for five on the drive. Miami took the early seven point lead when Harris put a well-placed ball in the back of the end zone and junior wide receiver Leonard Hankerson came down with it for a 23-yard score.

Aside from a Matt Bosher field goal, both teams hung tough defensively to end the first half. UCF had a chance to put some points on the board with a minute left in the half when Hodges hit Brynn Harvey for a two-yard pass that went for a first down. However, a holding penalty on Moose Robinson negated the play and instead of first and 10 from Miami's 36 yard line, the Knights faced a second and 11 from the Hurricanes' 46 and the team couldn't overcome the slight momentum swing as the scored remained 10 -0.

After UCF's opening drive of the second half stalled, Harris began where he left off. He picked on freshman Josh Robinson twice in one series, finding LaRon Byrd both times for 46 yards, which put Miami at UCF's five yard line. The Canes built their lead to 17-0 immediately after when Javarris James waltzed in for a score.

UCF found life following Miami's score when Hodges found Rocky Ross for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Hodges was four-of-six on the drive for 73 yards as he also had a big third down reception to Billy Giovanetti and a 41-yard strike to Jamar Newsome off of a play action pass.

A relentless pass rush helped capitalize off of UCF's new-found momentum. David Williams sacked Harris for a loss of six yards which helped stall the Miami drive. The Knights got to Harris six times on the evening but it was of no avail as what would occur next was indicative of UCF's season thus far. The Knights forced Miami to punt on the following series but a high snap sent the ball over punter Matt Bosher's head and he kicked it out of the end zone in hopes of avoiding a very short field for UCF, but a penalty was called on him.

With the ball at Miami's two-yard line, the Knights again managed to find a way to not convert inside the opponent's 20. On first and goal, an option play was called to the weak side of the field and the Knights lost four yards, changing the way the team would approach the next two downs. After and incompletion, Hodges was hit as he threw the ball during third and goal and Colin McCarthy came away with an interception. The Knights would never recover from the squandered opportunity.

"That was very frustrating," said receiver A.J. Guyton of UCF's failed trip to the red zone. "Going against a defense like that, you may not get another chance again so you have to capitalize on it when your chance does come."

Harris, who finished with 293 passing yards and touchdown, continued his masterful game by spreading the ball around and finding open receivers as Miami bled the clock against a fatigued defense. The Knights' secondary couldn't match Miami's speed and the sophomore quarterback took advantage of it.

It wasn't speed though that ultimately doomed the Knights but missed opportunities. Dropped balls, costly penalties and an inability to score close to the end zone prevented the Knights from coming closer to knocking off the Canes. Those have been nagging problems through the season and the Knights must make sure they don't persist if they want to have a chance of competing for a conference title.

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