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From rags to riches: Knights in title game
UCF 31, RICE 28: Comeback win clinches berth in C-USA championship game a year after winless season.
Published November 20, 2005
HOUSTON - Steven Moffett threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining, giving Central Florida a 31-28 win over Rice on Saturday and a spot in the Conference USA title game a year after going winless.
The Golden Knights, who clinched first place in the C-USA East with the win, posted the biggest turnaround in the country after last year's 0-11 season. UCF, which earlier this year ended the nation's longest losing streak at 17 games spanning two seasons, will play the West champion, either Texas-El Paso or Tulsa, in the first C-USA championship game at noon Dec. 3 at the Citrus Bowl.
UTEP lost 35-23 to Alabama-Birmingham, but can clinch the West title with a win over Southern Methodist Saturday. If UTEP loses that game, Tulsa will be the West Division champion. Jason Venson set up the winning score, returning an interception 13 yards to the Rice 31 with 4:08 remaining. Joe Burnett then intercepted a Rice pass with 27 seconds left to seal the victory.
UCF had to come from behind twice in the fourth quarter.
Rice took a 21-9 lead at halftime after trailing 9-0 deficit early in the first quarter. Joel Armstrong threw three touchdown passes and ran 17 times for 108 yards to lead the Owls, who themselves held the longest losing streak in the nation at 14 games until last week.
Armstrong's 6-yard touchdown to Jarett Dillard put the Owls up 21-9.
Then UCF put together drives of 81 and 69 yards in the third quarter, the latter ending with Jason Peters' 27-yard touchdown run that gave the Golden Knights a 24-21 lead.
But on Rice's first offensive play after that, Armstrong hit Mike Falco with an 80-yard pass to put the Owls up 28-24 just 23 seconds into the fourth quarter. Falco finished with three catches for 120 yards and the score.
For UCF, Moffett finished 19-of-29 for 205 yards.
UCF is the first team in NCAA history to reach a conference championship game a year after going winless.
FLA. INTERNATIONAL 38, W. KENTUCKY 35: Josh Padrick threw for 324 yards and a touchdown and Adam Moss nailed a field goal as time ran out as the host Golden Panthers slipped past the Hilltoppers.
With 2.9 seconds to go, Moss kicked a 36-yard field goal to seal the win and help FIU avoid overtime. The kick made up for a potential game-tying field goal he missed with 1:12 remaining in the Oct. 15, 13-10 home loss against North Texas.
Padrick was 22-of-36, threw for a touchdown and ran for two scores. Receiver Chandler Williams caught eight passes for 129 yards.
Western Kentucky had tied the game at 35-35 with 1:20 remaining when Justin Haddix hit fullback Ross Cassity in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown pass.
FIU scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to tie the game at 28-28 and erase a 21-14 halftime deficit. Ben West, who had not played since the North Texas game, rushed for 58 yards on nine carries and scored on a three-yard run that tied the game at 28-28. A'mod Ned ran for 79 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
Lerron Moore ran for 181 yards on 27 carries and scored twice to lead the Hilltoppers. Haddix completed 11-of-14 passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns.
UAB 35, UTEP 23: Darrell Hackney threw four touchdowns to support teammate Sam Williamson's midweek guarantee of a road victory as the visiting Blazers denied the Miners a chance to clinch the C-USA West Division title.
Reggie Lindsey caught three of Hackney's touchdown passes as UAB snapped UTEP's nine-game home winning streak.
Hackney, the top passer in Conference USA with 2,718 yards coming in, completed 11 of 17 passes for 184 yards.
Corey White ran for 106 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown for UAB and Lindsey finished with seven catches for 146 yards.