UCF's special teams made
an early impression with a pair of blocks. Following Marshall's first
possession, freshman Ron Ellis partially blocked Ben Lewis's punt. On the
Thundering Herd's next possession, Peter Sands blocked Ben Lewis's 28-yard field
goal attempt to deny Marshall the game's first three points. The block was his
second of the season.
Marshall countered with a special teams play of its own. A 70-yard punt return by Chris Royal set up tailback Frank Wallace, who scampered in from seven yards out to put the Thundering Herd in front 7-0.
The Golden Knights attempted to answer following a 15-yard Marshall punt. True freshman quarterback Steven Moffett directed the offense, driving UCF all the way to the four-yard line, but a mishandled snap on fourth down ended the drive and gave the ball back to Marshall.
The second half started slowly, but Marshall made a push for the end zone at the end of the third quarter. Behind the rushing of Earl Charles, the Thundering Herd drove 76 yards in ten plays. Charles capped the drive with a two-yard plunge, extending the Marshall lead to 14-0 as the quarter ended.
Moffett took it upon himself to lead the Golden Knights back. On third down, Moffett rushed around right end and exploded 55 yards for a touchdown, the first of his career and the longest for UCF on the season. Matt Prater's extra point closed the gap to 14-7.
UCF would get no closer, however. Marshall closed the scoring on a 49-yard touchdown run by quarterback Graham Gochneaur late in the contest, bringing the final tally to 21-7.
UCF finishes its 2003 and 25th anniversary season November 28th when they face MAC Eastern Division champion Miami. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
UCF Game Notes
Marshall at UCF
Florida Citrus Bowl
UCF lost 21-7 to Marshall Wednesday evening at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The first Wednesday game in school history also marked the first national television home game for the Golden Knights.
UCF is now 5-2 with a new coach in his first game over the school's 25-year history. UCF had won four straight games under a new coach. The last time a new coach lost his first game at UCF, Sam Weir lost 16-9 to Georgia Southern in 1982.
True freshman Steven Moffett became the first true freshman to start at quarterback in a home game for UCF since Daunte Culpepper opened his career vs. Eastern Kentucky (8/31/95).
Steven Moffett's 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the first career touchdown for Moffett and the longest run of the season for UCF. The touchdown run by Moffett was also the third longest by a quarterback in school history.
Longest touchdown run by a quarterback in school history
1. Daunte Culpepper – 75 yards at Kent State (10/4/97)
2. Vic Penn – 61 yards at Middle Tennessee State (11/13/99)
3. Steven Moffett – 55 yards vs. Marshall (11/19/03)
UCF blocked two kicks on the night, to raise its season total to six for the season. The six blocked kicks tied a school record, equaling the 1993 team.
True freshman cornerback Ron Ellis blocked a Marshall punt in the first quarter, the first blocked kick of his career.
Peter Sands blocked a 28-yard field goal in the first quarter for his second blocked field goal on the year. The last time UCF blocked a field goal, Sands blocked a field goal attempt at Akron (10/18/03). He is the third player in school history to block at least two field goals in one season.
Junior outside linebacker Gerren Bray recorded his first career interception in the second quarter.
Junior tight end Harvey Joiner made his first career catch, an eight-yard reception in the first half.
Interim head coach Alan Gooch announced prior to the game that wide receivers coach Sean Beckton has been elevated to assistant head coach.
UCF Head Coach
Alan Gooch On the game:
"All year the special teams have been a big plus, and our offense is the thing that has been the anchor. It's frustrating that we haven't been able to produce the way we've liked to. But there is a lot of positives and we're going to take those positives, prepare for Miami, and try to finish this thing up strong."
On the past week:
"We're just trying to keep this thing together. It's a difficult time in this program with so many kids gone. But we want everybody to understand inside and outside the program that this is not only about football, it's about shaping kids lives."
Marshall Head Coach Bob Pruett
About the game:
"We thought that they (UCF) would play hard. We never doubted that they would play with pride. They got some good athletes. We just came out here and gutted this thing out and clinched the 20th straight winning season at Marshall. We're really excited about that."
On the third-down play that clinched the game:
"That was a called play. They were bringing the safeties down and blitzing their linebackers and packing it inside. We made the call, it was there, and Graham (Gochneaur) made a heck of a run."