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UCF bows to another Cinderella in Christmas Eve epic
Published December 26, 2005
HONOLULU - Nevada proved Central Florida wasn't the only team to have an amazing turnaround this season.
Jeff Rowe scored on a 4-yard naked bootleg in overtime to lead the Wolf Pack to a 49-48 victory over the Golden Knights in the Hawaii Bowl on Saturday night.
UCF kicker Matt Prater, who had three field goals during the game, missed the tying extra point wide right, sending Nevada players running onto the field as the stunned Knights looked on.
B.J. Mitchell ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns, and Robert Hubbard had 126 yards rushing and three TDs for Nevada (9-3), which was 5-7 in 2004, finished with its best season since 1996 and spoiled UCF's bowl debut.
"We knew it was going to be a hard fight," Hubbard said. "The guys just never gave up and we survived. We had an amazing comeback. It's a Cinderella season for us as well."
UCF's Brandon Marshall caught a 16-yard pass for a touchdown that tied it at 42 with 55 seconds left. The score capped a four-play, 48-yard drive that took 37 seconds.
Prater kicked a 46-yard field goal with 1:32 left to draw UCF within 42-35, and the Golden Knights recovered the onside kick with no timeouts left, setting up Marshall's dramatic catch that forced overtime.
"I guess it hurts a little more because this is my last game," said Marshall, who earned MVP honors for his team with 11 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Trailing 32-28, the Wolf Pack took the lead on Hubbard's 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Nevada scored again on Rowe's 7-yard pass to Travis Branzell for a 42-32 lead with 3:18 left.
This season, the Golden Knights (8-5) ended the nation's longest Division I-A losing streak at 17 games. After going 0-11 last season, they were trying to tie the 1940 Stanford team for the second-biggest turnaround in history.
"It feels like a bad dream. To lose like this is unbelievable," said Jason Peters, who had 44 yards rushing for the Golden Knights.
Prater had field goals of 47, 40 and 46 yards and converted all three extra points in regulation.
"They should feel bad. That's what winning and losing is all about," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "You put in so much time and when you do lose a game, it hurts."
Kevin Smith had 202 yards rushing and three touchdowns, including a 19-yarder in overtime for the Golden Knights.