Nov. 1, 2009
AP Photo Gallery
ORLANDO, Fla. - UCF quarterback Brett Hodges completed a one-yard touchdown pass to Rocky Ross with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Knights a 21-20 win over the Thundering Herd football team on Sunday evening at Brighthouse Networks Stadium.
With the loss, the Thundering Herd dropped to 5-4 overall and 3-2 in Conference USA. UCF improved to 5-3 and 3-2 in C-USA.
A defensive struggle ensued early on as neither team was able to make its way onto the scoreboard until the second quarter. Following eight scoreless possessions to begin the game, Marshall finally broke the streak when Brian Anderson hit Cody Slate for a 4-yard touchdown with 12:03 remaining in the half. The play capped off a 91-yard drive, which was set up by two big plays, an Aaron Dobson 29-yard reception, followed two plays later by a Slate catch, which gained 47.
UCF came right back, tying the game just over four minutes later. UCF quarterback Brett Hodges found Rocky Ross for gains of 15 and 14 yards on consecutive plays. After the second completion, Marshall was hit with a roughing the passer penalty, moving the ball to the MU 28. Later in the drive, UCF had a fourth down and one from the Marshall 4 and on a play action pass, Hodges found Kamar Aiken for the score to knot the game at 7-7.
The Thundering Herd retook the lead with five minutes left in the quarter as Craig Ratanamorn connected on his ninth field goal of the season. After beginning the drive at the UCF 28, Anderson hit tight end Lee Smith on a 40-yard pass, a career-long reception for the junior. Marshall would advance the ball to the 13-yardline before settling for the field goal to retake the lead.
Later in the second quarter, the Knights attempted a field goal from 48 yards out. The kick was deflected by an offensive lineman and went into the hands of Ashton Hall, who was waiting at the goal line. Hall ran the ball back to the 28 of UCF. After moving the ball to the UCF 3, Darius Marshall found the endzone from three yards out for his 11th rushing touchdown of the season to put the Herd up 17-7.
The score would remain that way until Ratanamorn connected on a 20-yard field goal with 3:25 left in the third quarter. The play kept his perfect streak going. He is now 11-of-11 on the season. In the drive, MU moved the ball 76 yards over ten plays, including a 40-yard reception by freshman Aaron Dobson, the longest of his young career.
UCF kept fighting back, and with eight minutes remaining in the game, cut the MU lead to six points as running back Brynn Harvey scored on a two-yard run. After receiving the ball at the MU 43, the Knights marched down the field, with the key moment coming on a fourth-and-seven from the MU 24. Brett Hodges found Rocky Ross for a 21-yard completion to the 3-yardline, setting up the score.
With 2:35 left in the game, Brian Anderson fumbled on a second-and-one play from the MU 27. UCF recovered the fumble and on a third-and-ten, Hodges hit Kamar Aiken for a 19-yard reception advancing the ball to the MU 1-yardline. On the next play, Hodges found an open Rocky Ross for the winning score.
Brian Anderson completed 13-of-28 passes for 237 yards in the game. He threw for a score and was intercepted once. For UCF, Hodges threw for a career-high 342 yards. It marked the first 300-yard passing performance for a Knight QB since Kyle Israel did so on October 7, 2007.
Tight end Cody Slate was the top receiver for Marshall, hauling in five receptions for 80 yards. His touchdown in the second quarter marked the 23rd of his career, tying him for 5th all time with Josh Davis and Tim Martin. Aaron Dobson caught two balls for a career-high 75 yards. A.J. Guyton was the leading receiver in the game, catching the ball five times for 100 yards.
Darius Marshall rushed for 80 yards in the game, bringing his season total to 1,032. With the effort against UCF, Marshall surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the second-straight year. He became the first Marshall running back to record consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns since Chris Park did so in 1994 and 1995. Mario Harvey was the top player on defense for the Herd, recording a game-high 11 tackles along with a sack.
Following a bye next weekend, the Herd will return home on November 14 for a key C-USA East matchup against Southern Miss. The Herd and Golden Eagles will square off at 4:30 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The contest will not be televised.