UCF wins Liberty Bowl|Knights hold off Georgia
Published 4:27 pm Saturday, January 1, 2011
By By TERESA M. WALKER , AP Sports Writer
MEMPHIS, Tenn. Latavius Murray scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 9:01 left, and Central Florida held on to beat Georgia 10-6 Friday in the Liberty Bowl and cap the best season in school history with the programs first postseason victory.
The Knights (11-3) had never won more than 10 games in a season and had lost their first three bowl games, including their last visit here in 2007. The Conference USA champs made this win even sweeter by knocking off a Southeastern Conference team in the process.
Georgia (6-7) snapped a four-game bowl winning streak with its first loss since the 2006 Sugar Bowl. Worse for the Bulldogs is notching their first losing season since going 5-6 in 1996.
The Bulldogs had the ball last and converted two fourth downs before Kemal Ishmael knocked down Aaron Murrays final long throw into the end zone as time expired.
And in an ending reminiscent of Thursday nights Music City Bowl finish to regulation, the game seemed to be over before it actually was. Murrays first deep throw into the end zone landed incomplete and the clock appeared to run out. But replay officials reviewed the play and ruled the clock should have stopped with 2 seconds left.
Players from both teams went back to their sideline.
The Bulldogs had one more shot to pull out the win. Murray rolled to his left and heaved the ball into the end zone, but Ishmael knocked it to the ground with one hand to start the Knights celebration.
They had to move under cover quickly because a storm front that caused tornadoes in Arkansas hit minutes after the game ended, prompting security to order everyone off the field and out of the stands due to lightning.
Latavius Murray finished with 104 yards on 18 carries, but it was the Knights defense that pulled out this victory.
UCF came in with C-USAs stingiest defense and 18th best in the nation. The Knights held Georgia to 280 yards total offense, well below the Bulldogs average of 393.8. Senior captain and two-time C-USA defensive player of the year Bruce Miller had 1 1/2 sacks in the fourth quarter, including one on the final drive.
The Bulldogs got the ball back three times after Murrays TD. They went three-and-out on the first two, and Georgia got the ball back for the final time with 2:20 left.
The Bulldogs also started both halves driving down field easily before bogging down and settling for field goals of 20 and 41 yards by Blair Walsh. These teams went to halftime tied at 3-3 after a first half in which both Georgia and UCF wasted chances at the end zone.
UCF had its struggles moving the ball. The Knights finished with 241 yards on offense and Georgia picked off freshman Jeff Godfrey twice, including once in the end zone.