Senior linebacker Terrance Plummer poured his heart and soul into the Knights (3-2, 1-0) overtime victory Thursday night.
A career high of 17 tackles. A sack. A forced fumble. A fumble recovery. A 31-24 victory over BYU.
But Plummer was playing with a heavy heart. Last year, a close friend died in a homicide, and on Wednesday his uncle died from a fourth battle with Leukemia. The emotion of the last 24 hours was exemplified with his play on the field.
"My mom said you have to play your heart out for your uncle and your friend," an emotional Plummer said after the game. "I had my brothers behind me, but I didn't tell them that because I didn't want them to worry about me."
Plummer went down three times Thursday night with injury. He battled cramps throughout the night, and afterwards said he had never been more tired after a game. However, his game on the field exemplified a lesson his uncle, who was a football coach, taught him.
"Go until you can't go anymore, and then go one more time," Plummer said. "It felt like I had somebody on my back, somebody willing me and telling me to go.
"But he was a fighter. He always taught me to keep going."
Video: Sounds of the game
Head coach George O'Leary had challenged Plummer to make more impact plays, but this week he issued a challenge to the entire senior class. O'Leary saw this game as a chance to make a statement, and his team responded, and fought to the final play when the game was finally decided.
Although Plummer wasn't on the field because of a cramp a few plays prior, he watched from the sidelines as BYU quarterback Christian Stewart's final pass fell harmlessly to the turf, securing the Knights' victory.
In the third quarter, trailing 24-10, senior wide receiver Rannell Hall was able to curb the momentum back to the UCF sidelines when he ripped off a 58-yard kickoff return. The drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore William Stanback.
"[The kickoff return] was very important," Hall said. "It got the momentum going for the offense and just the team in general. We were able to punch it in after that."
In the fourth quarter, senior Josh Reese pulled in a diving 37-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Justin Holman.
While the seniors were challenged, perhaps no player faced as much pressure as Holman. On Monday, O'Leary mentioned that if the play of the offense didn't improve, Nick Patti could see playing time over Holman.
"All the kids that I challenged, including Justin Holman, I think had his moments tonight," O'Leary said.
Related: O'Leary sees improvement in Holman
Holman completed 30 of 51 passes, marking the most completions by a UCF quarterback since 2004.
When the game was on the line in overtime, Holman responded. He found for a 4-yard touchdown pass in overtime, which ultimately proved too much for BYU.
UCF will ride its three-game winning streak into next Saturday when it plays host to conference-opponent Tulane. The game is slated for a noon kickoff.