The second half of the game against East Carolina played out much like every other road loss this season excluding the blowout loss to Southern Methodist. UCF’s defense had little answer for the Pirate passing game in the second half which included an 83 yard touchdown pass, but the game still came down to the final minute as Blake Bortles threw an interception at the goal-line on a 4th and 10 play.
Unlike previous losses, UCF lost both the game and the stat sheet as ECU had more first downs, more yardage, more passing yards, more rushing yards, and less penalties. In previous losses, it was tough to figure out how the Knights lost a game when they controlled much of the overall stat sheet. The lack of a pass rush has been a problem all season and it was a point of focus for ECU that the Knights could do little to contain regardless of the field position.
ECU continued to control the lines of scrimmage in the second half and held Latavius Murray to just 12 yards in the second half after he ran for 75 in the first half. Head Coach George O’Leary continued his game of quarterback shuffling even though both quarterbacks were equally effective in the second half. In the end, UCF’s inability to put any running game together in the second half costs them on several 3rd and short plays that gave the ball back to the Pirates who had no issue converting those plays or scoring in the second half.
The Knight end the 2011 road season winless with five of the six losses coming down to the final minute and limp home Friday even to face UTEP to end the season and head into what will be a very unsettling off-season as the school searches for a new Athletic Director and the football coaching staff will most certainly have adjustments.
The first half of this contest was extremely entertaining as the two sides traded punches in a 17-17 half. ECU has dominated the line of scrimmage and has gashed the Knights’ rush defense for 88 yards on just 15 carries so far. The Knights have fared much better on pass defense as they have limited Dominique Davis to just 6 of 12 for 38 yards in the first half but two of those passes have gone for touchdowns.
UCF has been their worst enemy in this game so far, something that has happened many times already this season. The Knights already have 8 penalties for 81 yards including a few personal foul penalties on some questionable calls. The kicking game has looked very shaky as both extra points have not been clean and Nick Cattoi has already hooked one field goal when UCF wasted its best field position of the night starting a drive on the Pirate 37 yard line.
Both Jeff Godfrey and Blake Bortles have played in the game. Godfrey was very efficient on the opening touchdown drive but was very shaky after that as ECU stacked the box and did not allow him to use his legs to create plays as he did last season in the blowout in Orlando. Bortles came in early in the second half and the complexion of the game changed completely. Bortles was 7 for 12 in the first half for 71 yards and a touchdown pass to Josh Reese while Latavius Murray has found plenty of running room gaining 75 yards on just 14 carries in the half.