The first quarter was actually quite a contest: the Bulls moved the ball 31 yards (20 of which were from Andre Davis) and punted, then UCF moved the ball 33 yards and punted, and USF moved the ball 20 yards and punted. But toward the end of the quarter, the Knights started their slow, clock-bleeding drive that ended in a touchdown with 10:38 left in the half.
At the beginning of the game, the Bulls' defense looked pretty good: they blitzed, they sacked, and they tackled well. But after staying on the field through 17 straight UCF plays, they were exhausted. They needed a sustained drive from the offense before half time. One minute later, they were back on the field after a USF three-and-out.
The Knights then proceeded to walk 52 yards down the field before Rannell Hall's 21-yard run gave them another touchdown. USF's fresh offense took to the field and sprung to life, with Marlon Mack, Kennard Swanson and Andre Davis all contributing chunks of yardage. But things stalled when Rodney Adams' end around turned into a three-yard loss and the Bulls settled for a field goal attempt. An attempt that bounced off of the right goal post and landed back on the goal line. UCF 14, USF 0.
Poor clock management was a problem throughout the game, as it seemed to take USF the full 40 seconds to get every play off. With 1:34 left in the half, UCF was not looking to add to their total, so they simply ran the ball. USF's defense stopped the Knights three times, but the coaching staff's heads were evidently in the locker room because they neglected to use any of their two remaining timeouts and instead let the clock expire. UCF could have been forced to punt from their 30, giving White a chance or two to throw down field, or at least giving Dunkley a chance to return the ball.
In the third quarter, USF got the ball to the UCF 24 but could not convert on fourth down. The Knights then started to move the ball, but USF stopped them and forced a punt. Starting on their own 10, Mike White threw the ball away from inside the end zone, which gave UCF two points. UCF 16, USF 0.
On UCF's first play of their next possession, they fumbled a handoff that was scooped by Demetrius Hill and brought back to the UCF 14. That series ended four plays later with a very entertaining fake field goal. Who knew Mike McFarland could throw? Well, he can't. But kudos for trying. Still no points for USF.
Mike White got speared in the ribs at the end of the third quarter and was taken off the field for x-rays. Steven Bench came in to try to salvage some dignity and did put together a nice 82-yard drive that brought the Bulls within one yard of a touchdown. A six-yard sack and a 15-yard personal foul on Kennard Swanson brought the ball back to the 22 yard line, where Bench proceeded to force two incomplete passes to Andre Davis, turning the ball over on downs. Still no points for USF.
Each scoring opportunity for the Bulls was better than the last. A drive to the UCF 27 ended in no points. A fumble recovery in the red zone got them no points. First and goal on the one yard line got them no points. This mess of a season is over. And it ended with USF's only home shutout in history and their first shutout since 2009. A 4-8 record certainly doesn't look better than last year's 2-10.
Mark Harlan said after the game that he is committed to Willie Taggart as USF's 2015 coach. And Willie Taggart said that in 2015, "we plan on going to a bowl game." Looks like we're in for another hell of a season next year, too, folks.