BYU downs UCF 24-17
Knights lose 2 in a row
Published: Saturday, September 24, 2011
Updated: Sunday, September 25, 2011 15:09
It was déjà vu of the worst kind.
For the second straight week, turnovers and miscues cost the Knights a win. UCF (2-2) dropped the ball literally and figuratively Friday night, losing 24-17 to the BYU Cougars (2-2) in Provo, Utah.
To make matters worse, this particular game that got away from the Knights was televised to a national audience on ESPN.
"We turned the ball and you just can't do that," head coach George O'Leary said in a release. "We had receivers dropping the ball. We had our opportunities but we didn't take advantage."
UCF led 10-3 at the half, but a kickoff return for a touchdown, a missed field goal, a muffed punt, a fumble and an interception all played into the Cougars outscoring the Knights 21-7 in the second half. All of those contributed to negate the fact that UCF outgained BYU, had more first downs and controlled time of possession.
Now, the Knights have lost two straight games, something they didn't do at all last season, and a team that was thinking about going undefeated is now just trying to remember how to win.
Against a physical BYU defense, the Knights' offensive attack did show improvements after a lackluster effort against FIU.
UCF compiled 399 total yards on offense compared to BYU's 260 and picked up 19 first downs to the Cougars' and 16. Still, the Knights put the football on the ground four times, losing it twice.
"We're [making] mistakes that we shouldn't be making, and that's how we are losing these games," quarterback Jeff Godfrey said in a release. "Close games like this, we have to finish like we started."
Godfrey tossed his first interception of the season, but that wasn't even the worst Godfrey-related news.
Godfrey went down hard late in the third quarter, suffering an elbow injury that forced him to sit out a series. Redshirt freshman Blake Bortles filled in admirably, entering the game in a tense situation and completing his first four passes and leading the Knights down the field. Bortles finished with 45 passing yards on four-of-five passing attempts.
Still, the drive stalled out and ended in a 35-yard field goal attempt. Senior place kicker Nick Cattoi had made an earlier attempt from 34 yards out but missed his second attempt of the game, squandering a chance to put UCF ahead with the game tied at 17-17.
Godfrey, after refusing to go to the locker room, re-entered the game the next time the Knights had the ball.
The Knights started to put together two fourth-quarter drives, down now 24-17, but both ended with turnovers. Godfrey completed a pass to Dontravious Floyd as the team moved down the field with around nine minutes remaining, but Floyd fumbled as he was being tackled, ending that drive.
Then, with the Knights driving again and about three minutes remaining, Godfrey was forced out of the pocket and threw his first interception of the season.
Godfrey finished the night 17-of-25 for 272 yards and ran for two touchdowns, giving him eight on the season.
Still, the one costly interception will likely be the statistic the sophomore standout remembers the most. If not that, then perhaps the fact that UCF, through four games, is still without a passing touchdown.
"We're making mental mistakes, and on my play where I threw the interception I have to be smarter and throw the ball out of the end zone," Godfrey said. "I have to learn from that."
Once again, the Knights' running game was subpar, amassing only 81 yards on the night. UCF's three-headed monster at running back has been anything but the past two weeks, with none of the three backs able to get into a rhythm Friday night.
As a team, the Knights averaged 2.4 yards per carry.
UCF's defense held BYU to only 260 yards on the night.
Where the Knights struggled, though, was handling the Cougars' rushing attack – a rushing attack that had been virtually non-existent for BYU through the first three weeks.
That same attack found some footing against the Knights on Friday, with the Cougars rushing for 127 yards.
UCF did have success, though, containing BYU quarterback Jake Heaps.
Heaps, who passed for 305 yards the week before, threw for only 133 against the Knights on 16-of-34 passing.
The sophomore quarterback also had an interception, picked off in the first quarter after a tipped ball landed in the hands of Josh Robinson.
"This is really tough because we had the lead coming into halftime and we just folded in the second half," defensive tackle Victor Gray said in a release. "The mistakes keep catching up with us. We made them last week and we made them this week again. We won't be a championship-caliber team if we keep making these kinds of mistakes."
Typically associated with having a very disciplined and effective special teams unit, UCF's special teams looked anything but on Friday night.
"It's a shame, and then the kickoff coverage hurt us too," O'Leary said. "Sloppy coverage and a bad kick."
Three huge miscues by the unit, all in the second half, directly played into the Knights dropping a winnable game for the second straight week, and it all started with botched kicked return coverage.
UCF had just regained some momentum, going up 17-10 on a Godfrey keeper. On the ensuing kickoff, however, the Knights' coverage broke down and BYU return man Cody Hoffman took the ball 93 yards to the house, instantly taking away the momentum UCF had just gained.