GLENDALE, Ariz.—It was the biggest win in UCF history, as the Knights outscored an offense-heavy Baylor Bears team, 52-42, in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
UCF junior quarterback Blake Bortles, who is a potential top NFL draft pick if he decides to leave school early, led the offense with 301 passing yards, 93 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.
It’s about each week going out and preparing and getting the job done,” stated Bortles. “Like coach said, it’s a ‘we’ thing, not a ‘me’ thing.”
While Bortles continued to give the Baylor defense problems, dangerous running back Storm Johnson and wide receiver Rannell Hall were in on the action as well. Johnson rushed for an impressive 124 yards and three touchdowns, while Hall recorded 113 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Baylor junior quarterback Bryce Petty tried to rally his team back into the game near the end of the second quarter with an incredible touchdown run, but the Bears were never able to take a lead in the game. Even though Baylor knotted things up at 28 with 10 minutes and 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the defense was unable to contain the UCF offense
“ I think they put it all together,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary. “I thought the offense feeds off the defense, the defense feeds off the offense.”
A critical part in the game occurred on a pass interference call against Baylor defensive back Sam Holl near the end of the third quarter on a UCF 3rd-and-5. Bortles eventually scored on a 15-yard touchdown run and put the Knights up 42-28 with 13:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Penalties appeared to be Baylor’s problem for the entire game, as the Bears had 17 penalties for 135 yards, while UCF had just four for 40 yards.
"I cannot remember the time that we've had that many penalties in a game, without question," mentioned Baylor head coach Art Briles. "Certainly hard to overcome."
In a shootout, where both teams combined for 94 total points, the most in Fiesta Bowl history, UCF finished the game with 556 yards. The Knights also rushed for a season-high 255 yards on the Bear defense.
In UCF’s first season as a member of a BCS-qualifying conference, it won an American Athletic Conference title and a Fiesta Bowl. It also won 12 games for the first time in school history.