UCF defeats Ball State in the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl

By Ryan Gillespie

UCF defeats Ball State in the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl

When under pressure and with defenders clinging to his jersey, UCF redshirt sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles spun, ducked and dodged his way to a career game.

The Knights (10-4) defeated Ball State (9-4) 38-17 to win the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, and Bortles turned in a memorable performance that earned him the MVP award.

Bortles completed 22 of 32 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

“I thought Blake Bortles played extremely well with his feet and his arm and made quick decisions and I thought that was the difference in the game,” head coach George O’Leary said.

The Knights offense was clicking from it’s opening possession. In it’s first possession, UCF and Bortles set the tone, driving the ball 78 yards in 13 plays. Bortles highlighted the drive with a 19-yard rush on third down and 12.

Bortles carried the ball nine times for 79 yards and had an emphatic touchdown as he bowled over two Ball State defenders on his way to pay dirt.

Bortles was criticized early in the season for forcing passes into coverage and protecting the ball. That was not a problem in this game, nor has it been a problem for the latter half of the season.

Bortles exemplified his patience many times on Friday night, especially on his third quarter touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore J.J. Worton. Bortles dodged the rush, rolled out to his left and lofted his pass into the corner of the end zone. Countless times Bortles was able to extend plays and give his receivers plenty of time to get open down field.

“I think he took some bad plays and made some good plays out of them,” O’Leary said. “Again he had a good night and when your quarterback does well, your offense moves the ball.”
OFFENSE
Knights fans were gifted this holiday season with a glimpse of the future. Freshman wide receiver Breshad Perriman was the beneficiary of Bortles career night, setting career highs in both catches and yards.

Perriman hauled in five passes for 90 yards.

“Clemson had some outstanding athletes and I don’t think these guys were very far off,” Ball State head coach Pete Lembo said of UCF’s athletes.

Perriman had three of his catches on the opening drive, and four total in the first quarter.

Up front, the Knights’ offensive line had a dominant performance, giving Bortles plenty of time to work through his progressions and allowing receivers to break open. The line was also instrumental in controlling the clock for over 35 minutes and rushing for 224 yards.

“The offensive line did a great job of just opening up seams and when they drop deep out there, it’s either check down or take off,” Bortles said.

Latavius Murray continued his productive ways, ending his career in style with 21 carries, 71 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Muray also caught six passes for 32 yards and two scores.

DEFENSE

The Knights’ defense was able to suffocate the Cardinals, and made it difficult for them to get into any kind of rhythm. The Knights presence inside was dominant and disruptive.

At a critical stage late in the second quarter, Ball State drove down into the red zone, and was in prime position to cut the score to 21-14 just before halftime. The Knights were able to track down junior quarterback Keith Wenning for a sack and for a loss of eleven yards.

“You penetrate deep in their end, and you absolutely love to come away with a touchdown there but at a minimum you have to come away with three,” Lembo said.

The Cardinals missed the ensuing field goal wide left, allowing UCF to push its lead to 28-7 at halftime.

UCF amassed sacks, hurries and senior safety Kemal Ishmael forced a fumble.

The Cardinals were held to 286 yards in the game and 2.8 yards per carry.

Ball State was unable to produce on third down consistently, converting on only three of nine opportunities.

The win boosted the Knights to their fourth ten-win season and provided the program’s second bowl victory.

Read more here: http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/sports/football-ucf-defeats-ball-state-in-the-beef-o-brady-s-bowl-1.2803110#.UN29OLbqFtI
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