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UCF-PSU highlights, lowlights

September 15, 2013
By Neil Rudel ( , The Altoona Mirror

UNIVERSITY PARK - Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State's 34-31 loss to Central Florida on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium:

Play of the game: Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles tossed a perfect 5-yard touchdown to J.J. Worton in the left corner of the end zone - where only Worton could catch it - to give UCF a 21-7 lead with 8:51 left in the first half. The Nittany Lions never totally recovered.

Offensive player of the game: Bortles, an NFL prospect, completed 20-of-27 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once and was not sacked.

Article Photos

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Penn State receiver Geno Lewis is tripped up by UCF’s Josh Reese on a kickoff return.

Defensive player of the game: UCF middle linebacker Terrance Plummer recorded a game-high 11 tackles and jarred loose a key late fumble.

Most telling statistic: Of their first six possessions, the Knights scored four touchdowns.

Hidden statistic: UCF owned fourth-quarter time of possession, 10:11-4:49.

Best run: After the Lions tied the game 7-7, Central Florida's Storm Johnson exploded around the right edge and raced 58 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to put the Knights back up 14-7.

Best pass: On third-and-9 from the PSU, Bortles stepped up in the pocket to avoid a rush and then found Jeff Godfrey for 28 yards up the left sideline, setting up UCF's game-opening touchdown and providing a definite tone for the evening.

Worst pass: Hate to single out a punt snapper, but UCF was in charge until its long snapper, Scott Teal, launched a ball high over the head of punter Caleb Houston with the Knights up 34-24 and four minutes remaining. The huge loss allowed PSU a short field, and the Lions pulled within 34-31 with 2:51 left.

Best catch: Allen Robinson's 5-yard touchdown pass on a fade from Christian Hackenberg, with 2:51 left, pulled the Lions within 34-31.

Catch it, will ya: It was an excellent day for both sets of receivers with no glaring drops.

Hold it, won't ya: Zach Zwinak's fumble with 5:43 remaining let the air out of the crowd and the Lions' comeback bid.

Best move/worst tackle: UCF's Josh Reese took a screen with 8:46 left in the third quarter and eluded Malcolm Willis and Jordan Lucas en route to a 25-yard touchdown and a 28-10 lead.

Best tackle: On third-and-goal from the PSU 1 late in the third quarter, Lion defensive tackle DaQuan Jones stuffed a quarterback sneak to help force a field goal and kept Penn State in the game.

Best hit: UCF safety Clayton Geathers separated Gino Lewis from a completion in the second quarter.

Best kick: Sam Ficken's 47-yard field goal, his 15th straight dating back to last season, pulled Penn State within 21-10 in the second quarter.

Worst kick: Punting from the 50 with a chance to put Central Florida deep, Alex Butterworth only managed a 32-yarder to the UCF 18.

Best call: Let's go to the defense - UCF's defense. With the Lions facing third-and-7 in the third quarter from midfield, the Knights sent a blitz at Hackenburg, forcing a hurry and an incompletion.

Worst call: Hard to nitpick George O'Leary, but the decision to pass (incomplete), up 34-24 with 3:48 left, missed a chance to run the clock or force Penn State into its last timeout.

Worst penalty: Garry Gilliam hurt a drive when he was hit with a hold (for the second straight week) after a well-executed screen to Robinson gained 15 yards to the UCF 32 in the second quarter.

Best effort: In addition to not allowing a sack, UCF's offensive line escorted a ground game that produced 219 yards on 38 cracks - a fat 5.8 per-carry average.

Unsung hero: UCF's Shawn Moffitt was cool on the road, nailing both of his field goals (22 and 36), which wound up being the margin of victory.

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