By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 5, 2000
At times, Central Florida coach Mike Kruczek explained, it's easier for a young player to get over an excruciating loss than it is for an old coach.
That seemed the case Monday as Kruczek's tired voice betrayed frustration as he evaluated Saturday's near-upset, a 21-17 loss at Georgia Tech.
Once again, Kruczek watched another chance at the school's first Division I upset evaporate in the final minutes.
The Knights led 17-14 with 3:48 left. Then Georgia Tech quarterback George Godsey, a former Jesuit High player, led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, throwing a 1-yard, play-action touchdown lob to Brian Lee with 38 seconds left to win it.
"It would have been nice to win it," Kruczek said. "It just would have given us more respect and attention, climbing the I-A ladder of success. But it didn't happen, so now I'm concentrating on our next game. We've got 10 left. We're not going anywhere."
He has seen these near-upsets time and again: Georgia '99, Auburn '98, and Mississippi State and South Carolina in '97. Each time, UCF was a mere handful of plays away from upsetting a major Division I foe. What went wrong this time?
For once, UCF's defense carried the offense -- until the fourth. Its offense converted 1 of 12 third-down opportunities, was outrushed 8 yards to 110, and saw quarterback Vic Penn sacked three times. Georgia Tech's offense wore down UCF's defense late. "It was a total lack of movement, really," Kruczek said. "When we had to move (the ball), we couldn't get it done."
Wide receiver Kenny Clark caught five passes for 148 yards and a touchdown and took a lateral 9 yards for another score. In the fourth, Clark fumbled a first-down pass at midfield and Tech recovered with 8:25 left.
On another fourth-quarter drive, Tavirus Davis dropped a first-down pass on second and 14. UCF punted, and Godsey led Georgia Tech to the win.
"If (Kenny) doesn't fumble that, if Tavirus doesn't drop that pass ... ," Kruczek said, "it could be one of a dozen plays that could have won it.
"But that's what always happened in the past. I've been down that road more than a few times."
THE HARD WAY: Clearwater's, a 6-foot, 220-pound junior linebacker at UCF, had 13 tackles -- three for a loss, 12 solo -- and forced three fumbles. He spearheaded a defense that had lived in the offense's shadow until Saturday.
"I'd seen this coming all camp," Kruczek said. "They played very, very well. They'd been dominant in camp and I was bragging about them."
RUN RATTLERS RUN: Florida A&M discovered tailback on Saturday, then lost him. Lordeus had 131 of FAMU's 217 rushing yards and three touchdowns to help the Rattlers to a 49-21 win over Delaware State.
But a dislocated left shoulder forced Lordeus out of the game in the third quarter. Team doctors are evaluating his injury and his status is uncertain.
PASSING GRADE?: Looks like the "Wyattbone" offense's new passing schemes need more tinkering after Bethune-Cookman's 30-15 victory over Savannah State in Saturday's Gateway Classic at Jacksonville's Alltell Stadium.
Coach was hoping to highlight quarterback Pa'Tell Troutman's passing, but he only completed 3 of 16 passes for 34 yards.
Troutman still was explosive, leading B-CC with 161 rushing yards and two scores to help the Wildcats overcome a 9-0 deficit.
"Obviously, if we are going to be competitive in our conference, we will have to pass better," Wyatt told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.