Murray, Ishmael make key overtime plays in UCF’s win
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 19:10
Senior safety Kemal Ishmael pulled down more than just the game-sealing interception in double overtime Saturday night, he pulled down a little bit of UCF history.
The Knights (4-2) defeated the Golden Eagles (0-6), 38-31, thanks in part to Ishmael’s interception on the Golden Eagles’ first play of double overtime.
“It’s the same all the time, your great football players are always in the right position, and it’s where Kemal was,” head coach George O’Leary said. “He’s just a terrific football player.”
Southern Miss kicker Corey Acosta sent the game into overtime with a 27-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in regulation.
“I said earlier in the week you can throw the records out. Give Southern Miss credit; they came in here and fought,” O’Leary said.
The Golden Eagles were 0-5 prior to their trip to Orlando, but Southern Miss is a notoriously strong program.
In overtime, UCF was able to stop the momentum that the Golden Eagles had built and dominated on the ground throughout both periods.
“The offensive line took over when we went to overtime,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles said. The Knights rushed for 37 yards and two touchdowns in overtime.
Senior running back Latavius Murray did the bulk of the work, scoring both overtime touchdowns, including a score from 4 yards out to take the lead in the second overtime. Murray gained 52 yards on 11 carries for the game.
The win was big for the Knights in more than just the standing, it was a bit of history. The team had never won an overtime game prior to this win. It was also the first time UCF ever beat Southern Miss at home.
“We all wanted this game really bad after last year’s loss; no one on this team has beaten them,” redshirt sophomore wide receiver J.J. Worton said.
“They are way better than 0-5, and they showed that tonight,” Bortles said. “It’s a great feeling to finally beat Southern Miss.”
Bortles put together an impressive performance, displaying confidence in the pocket and improved footwork while under pressure.
For the second-consecutive game, Bortles set a new career high in passing yards in a game. The redshirt sophomore passer completed 27 of his 40 passes for 272 yards and added two rushing touchdowns.
Bortles’ patience and poise led to a 34-yard pass to Worton just before halftime.
On fourth and 2 from the Southern Miss 35-yard line, Bortles held onto the ball for more than four seconds before finding Worton cutting across the middle of the field. Worton made the catch and weaved his way down to the 1-yard line.
Worton had a huge day for the Knights, catching eight passes for 117 yards. Worton also had a 15-yard run on a reverse from the “Wild-Knight” package.
On the Knights’ opening drive, Bortles led the offense on a 15-play, 93-yard drive. Bortles capped off the drive with a 1-yard run for a touchdown.
After losing Rannell Hall to injury on the opening possession, true freshman Breshad Perriman took the opportunity to play and shined. Perriman hauled in five receptions for 55 yards.
“We have to get him more touches, we really do. He makes circus catches every game,” O’Leary said.
Redshirt sophomore running back Storm Johnson amassed 94 yards on 18 carries, highlighted by a 32-yard touchdown down the sideline.
Two freshmen had their way with the UCF defense for much of the game. Quarterback Anthony Alford finished with 165 yards passing and 71 yards rushing. Alford also had two touchdowns on the ground. Fellow freshman Jalen Richard had 87 yards and two scores to power the Golden Eagles’ attack.
Southern Miss rushed for 194 yards in the game and scored four rushing touchdowns.
The Knights’ pass rush struggled to get any pressure on Alford and he made them pay, except when it mattered most.
“He can make you look foolish because he’s a better athlete than we have rushing at him,” O’Leary said.
Jordan Ozerities stepped in front of one of Alford’s passes for his first interception of the season.
As a unit, the Knights had zero sacks and only four hurries, a step back from their previous two games.
On the final play, the Knights were in a cover-four look and defensive coordinator Jim Fleming checked his unit into a new coverage, resulting in the interception.
“Coach checked out of one of our calls, and made another call and it was a great call,” Ishmael said.