Blazers Battle Past Knights, 26-24

UABSPORTS.COM Ty Long kicks the game-winning field goal to defeat UCF 26-24
UABSPORTS.COM
Ty Long kicks the game-winning field goal to defeat UCF 26-24
UABSPORTS.COM

Oct. 20, 2011

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Ty Long kicked a 40-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to give UAB its first victory of the season Thursday night, 26-24 over UCF.

The Blazers (1-6, 1-3 Conference USA) converted two third-and-longs after taking over at their own 16 with 4:57 left to set up the game-winner.

"We knew that we had to run as much time off the clock, and the play with Patrick Hearn making a heck of a catch on their sideline put us in great position for the field goal," head coach Neil Callaway said. 

The Knights (3-4, 1-2) got the ball across midfield with 14 seconds remaining on a kick return by Rannell Hall. Backup quarterback Blake Bortles threw an incomplete pass and then had a last-play heave intercepted by Chase Daniel at the goal line.

Bortles had led two fourth-quarter scoring drives after relieving Jeff Godfrey to rally the Knights from a 23-14 deficit, but couldn't keep UCF from losing for the fourth time in five games.

"The satisfaction of winning a football game is mighty big for us," Callaway said.  "This is one win for us, and we have five games left, which will not be easy for us."

Jonathan Perry completed 31 of 42 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns while subbing for injured starter Bryan Ellis.

Perry had started two games while Ellis was out with a concussion and the starter was injured again in his return last week against Tulsa.

Perry hit Hearn for a 22-yarder on third-and-12 to push the Blazers across midfield. On third-and-16, UCF's Lyle Dankenbring was called for pass interference.

Long split the uprights after three straight runs by Darrin Reaves. UCF had taken the lead on Shawn Moffitt's 24-yard field goal.

UAB gained 501 yards against the nation's No. 3 defense while holding UCF to 331. Perry also ran for 33 yards on eight carries, while Reaves gained 83 yards.

The Golden Knights came right back after head coach George O'Leary inserted Bortles in the fourth quarter. Hall put him in good position for his first drive by returning a squib kick 39 yards to the UAB 41.

Bortles then completed his first four passes before Latavius Murray ran for the final yard to cut the gap.

Bortles passed this time to Murray, who made a nice cutback move en route to a 53-yard gain to set up a first-and-goal from the 6-yard line for UCF on the next drive.

One run went nowhere and Bortles threw two incompletions to force Moffett's kick.

Godfrey was 13 of 22 for 133 yards and an interception and directed touchdown drives on UCF's first two possessions, capped by leading rusher Brynn Harvey's first touchdowns of the season. Bortles was 6 of 10 for 102 yards, all in the final quarter.

The Blazers were also playing without injured tailback Pat Shed and an ailing left tackle Matt McCants. They had two losses of five points or fewer, but didn't let this one slip away.

Jackie Williams, who had 10 catches for 82 yards, scored on a 4-yard end around on third-and-goal for the nine-point lead in the opening minute of the fourth.

Then the UCF defense came up big. Troy Davis and Kemal Ishmael stuffed Perry on fourth-and-two from the UCF 32 midway through the fourth.

That set up the go-ahead field goal.

Long had given UAB a 16-14 halftime lead on a 45-yard field goal on the final play after Perry took over with 34 seconds left. He delivered a 25-yard pass to Nolen Smith and a 12-yarder to Williams to move into field goal position.

UCF had also missed a field goal in the half.

UAB is off until Saturday, Oct. 29 with a trip to Huntington, W.Va. to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd.  Game time is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT.