The Central Florida Knights capped an amazing second-half comeback with a late, game-winning touchdown drive to upset No. 8 Louisville and hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season with a dramatic 38-35 victory.
The Cardinals let a 21-point third-quarter lead slip through their hands like quicksand as the Knights, who also gave South Carolina a scare earlier this season, refused to quit even in front of a raucous crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
UCF upsets No. 8 Louisville, 38-35. Blake Bortles finds Jeff Godfrey for game-winning TD, ending Louisville's undefeated season. #UCFvsLOU— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 19, 2013
After Heisman candidate and future first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater appeared to avoid the upset scare with a late touchdown drive to regain the lead, Blake Bortles responded with a clutch touchdown drive of his own to give the Knights the win:
Bortles finished 21 of 32 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the upset win.
Bridgewater was near perfect for most of Friday night, finishing 29-of-38 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
However, much of that production came in the first half as the Cardinals were rolling early:
And after a James Quick fumble recovery and return for a touchdown made it 28-7 with just under eight minutes to go in the third quarter, it looked like Louisville was on its way to a easy victory.
Not so fast.
The Knights stormed back in a matter of minutes: Storm Johnson scored a one-yard touchdown to cap off a 74-yard scoring drive in three minutes. Two plays later, Cardinals running back Senorise Perry fumbled the ball over to the Knights, and quarterback Blake Bortles proceeded to connect with Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown reception. And after the Cardinals were forced off the field quickly on their next possesion, UCF moved right back down the field to make it 28-28.
Johnson finished with 188 total yards and two scores.
Bridgewater was once again forced off the field quickly to start the fourth quarter, and the Knights eventually kicked a field goal, giving them a 31-28 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.
As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, it was the first time all year Louisville had went behind on the scoreboard:
This is the first time that Louisville has trailed this season. They were the only team in FBS that hadn't trailed this season. #UpsetAlert— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 19, 2013
Bridgewater wasn't about to fold, however. Fueled by a key pass interference call on fourth down, the unflappable QB led the Cardinals quickly down the field, firing in accurate darts when necessary and throwing improvisational shovel passes on third down to keep his team alive.
Finally, Dominique Brown would scamper around the left side for a 15-yard score to put the Cardinals back ahead by four with three minutes remaining.
The wild game was far from over.
Who will finish the season with more wins?
Bortles responded with a counter-punch and haymaker of his own, easily pushing UCF right back down the field and down to the five yard-line with 33 seconds to play.
After a couple of Louisville stops, Bortles found Jeff Godfrey in the back of the end zone, completing the 11-play, 75-yard drive to put the Knights back in front.
Bridgewater got a chance at a last-second Hail Mary, but it fell harmlessly to the ground and Louisville's BCS hopes diminished significantly.