UCF falls to Ohio State 31-16 after failing to cash in on key chances

By Ryan Gillespie

Opportunities became the story of the day for the Knights as they fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes 31-16 in Columbus, Ohio.

“Offensively, basically the key of the game was the turnovers,” head coach George O’Leary said.“Especially when you have the opportunity to come away with points I think that’s critical.”

The Knights had opportunities to take control throughout the game, with the biggest chance coming in the third quarter, but couldn’t convert.

After redshirt sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles’ two-yard touchdown pass to fullback Billy Giovanetti, defensive back A.J. Bouye intercepted Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller’s pass at the Buckeyes’ 36-yard line.

UCF drove the ball deep into Ohio State territory with the chance to cut the deficit to 8 points, but Bortles threw an interception inside the 10-yard line to Ohio State defensive back Orhian Johnson.

“Basically, we played sporadically,” O’Leary said in a release. “You can’t turn the ball over against good football teams. Obviously, Ohio State’s a very good football team.”

Miller dominated the game, completing 19 of 25 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Miller also carried the ball 27 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

In one of the sophomore’s scores, Miller burst through the middle of the UCF defense on the Ohio State opening possession, finishing with a 37-yard touchdown run.

“They have athletes that make you miss,” O’Leary said in a release. “Everything they talk about with Braxton Miller is accurate.”

In contrast, Bortles’ play was inconsistent, finishing 25 of 40 for 249 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

“He did a lot of good things, but the things he did bad are bad, you can’t hide those,” O’Leary said.

Bortles threw a wild interception while rolling out to his right in the third quarter. He lobbed a pass in between three Buckeye defenders and a Knights wide receiver. The pass was intercepted by senior linebacker Etienne Sabino.

“I think the one thing Blake [Bortles] has to understand is that you have got to make decisions in throwing the ball quicker,” O’Leary said.

A theme all week for O’Leary was the need for improved protection of Bortles. The offensive line answered the call on Saturday.

“I don’t know how good the Central Florida offensive line is. I think they played pretty good today,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in a postgame press conference.

“Except for the last play which was a sack, they took a pretty formidable front and kept Blake clean,” O’Leary said.

Despite missing starting running back Latavius Murray, the Knights posted 99 yards rushing.

Storm Johnson had 12 carries for 75 yards, including a 48-yard scamper down the sideline and Brynn Harvey ran hard all game, finishing with seven carries for 36 yards.

“I thought both running backs had their purpose and did a lot of things to help us get yards,” O’Leary said

The Knights managed to put together a few offensive highlights despite the loss.

Harvey had a highlight-reel carry, pushing a pile of Knights and Buckeyes a full 10 extra yards and sophomore tight end Justin Tukes caught a one-yard touchdown pass to put the Knights on the board in the second quarter.

“That’s the kind of things that gets your team moving and energizes everybody including your fanbase,” O’Leary said of Harvey’s run.

The UCF defense had highs and lows throughout the afternoon. Kemal Ishmael’s fumble recovery and Bouye’s interception composed the Knights two takeaways.

The Knights are scheduled to play FIU next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium.

Read more here: http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/sports/ucf-falls-to-ohio-state-31-16-after-failing-to-cash-in-on-key-chances-1.2759056#.UE3-NBjOeQw
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