"It was confirmed by our (Director of Athletics, Bob Marcum) that Josh Johnson will not play in this week's game at UCF. His status will be reevaluated on a game-by-game based until this situation is resolved." Johnson was charged on Wednesday, October 24, with felony bugglary, along with misdemeanor domestic battery and battery in a dispute with his girlfriend, outside of her apartment. Johnson did play in last week's game against Rice, after paying for the door he kicked in and after apologizing to both his girlfriend and her next door neighbor.
In his place, Will linebacker Maurice Kitchens will move to the middle spot. Kitchens, No. 2 on the team in tackles, moved there earlier this season when Johnson was out with a quad and ankle injury. Sophomore Mario Harvey, who played more the past two games, will start at will and Antwan Booker will also play more this game against Central Florida, at the Knight's new Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando.
Last Sunday, UCF tailback Kevin Smith ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns and set four school records to help UCF beat Southern Miss 34-17 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Smith, who entered the game as the No. 2 scorer and rusher in the nation, led the Knights (5-3, 3-1) back into the Conference USA East Division race. The 6-foot-1, 211-pound junior set the school career rushing record with 3,372 yards.
That total for Kevin Smith breaks former UCF tailback Alex Hayne's mark of 3,359 set from 2001-04. Smith also set marks for rushing TDs in a season (16), career 100-yard games (16) and had a school-record 43 carries. Southern Miss turnovers set up both of Smith's first-half scores. The first, a one-yard dive, came after the Knights Johnell Neal intercepted USM QB Stephen Reaves' pass. The second, a five-yard sprint to the corner of the end zone, was set up by Southern Miss' other quarterback, Jeremy Young, who fumbled a snap in the second quarter.
UCF quarterback Kyle Israel put the Knights up 21-10 with an eight-yard pass to sophomore receiver Brian Watters with 1:28 left in the second quarter. It was the first career touchdown for Watters. Southern Miss (4-4, 3-2 in C-USA) rallied briefly after UCF pushed its lead to 24-10 on Michael Torres' 41-yard field goal to open the second half. Back came Southern Miss, with runningback Tory Harrison's second touchdown run of the game. That four-yard score came with 9:59 left in the third quarter and cut the Knights' lead to a touchdown. But Smith and UCF answered with a 17-play drive that ate up 80 yards and 8:56. Smith had seven carries on the drive, and Israel threw his second touchdown pass, connecting with true freshman receiver Kamar Aiken on an eight-yard pass with 1:03 left in the third quarter to make it 31-17.
Reaves threw his third interception on the next drive, effectively ending Southern Miss' hopes, and Torres nailed down the game with another field goal, from 31 yards, in the fourth quarter. In addition to the touchdown passes, Israel made several big plays for first downs to keep UCF drives alive and finished with a passing night 12-of-16 for 162 yards. The Golden Eagles, who lost its second C-USA game at home this season, were led by sophomore tailback Damion Fletcher, who had 134 yards rushing on 19 carries. Southern Miss quarterback Reaves finished 20-of-29 for 144 yards, but threw three interceptions.
UCF will be home at Bright House Networks Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 3, for a 3:30 p.m. meeting with the Marshall Thundering Herd. MU posted its first win of the 2007 season with a 34-21 Homecoming win over the Rice Owls. While Marshall is 1-7, 1-3 in C-USA, those three losses in league play were by three at Memphis, seven at Tulsa and by nine at home on a late fourth quarter score by Southern Miss. MU quarterback Bernard Morris, a native of Orlando, had 347 yards of offense and two rushing touchdowns to lead the Herd to the win. Marshall leads the all-time series 3-2, but all the Herd's wins came in Mid-American Conference games. Central Florida is 2-0 versus Marshall in C-USA games, including last season's 23-22 win in Huntington. The Knights beat the Thundering Herd for the first time in 2005 at the Citrus Bowl, 23-13. The game will be televised on Comcast Sports South (CSS), as well as being available on the radio on the UCF/ISP Sports Network and Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network.
It will be the 28th Homecoming for UCF, and the first in the new on-campus stadium. In 27 Homecoming games for the Knights at the Citrus Bowl, they were 18-9 but lost two of the last three games, including the 2006 game to East Carolina, 23-10. The Knights won a school-record nine Homecoming games in a row from 1995, when UCF was I-AA, through 2003, the next to last season in the MAC.
For Marshall, the trip to Orlando is the second of four Homecoming games in the last seven contests. MU won its school-record 15th consecutive Homecoming game with the win over Rice, in what was the 106th Homecoming game in Marshall history. The Herd was also the Homecoming game at Tulsa, a 38-31 loss to the Golden Hurricane, will be the opponent at this week's UCF Homecoming and will be the late season Homecoming game at Houston on Nov. 17. That will be the latest date for a Homecoming game for Marshall since the Herd hosted Dayton on the same date at Fairfield Stadium in 1951, a 37-13 loss to the Flyers. Marshall's Homecoming game was played on in late November, on Thanksgiving Day, from 1895 through 1942.