Best UCF Moments in CUSA on ELOOnline
UCF Athletics run in Conference USA is over. No more CUSA competition as they ended with UCF Baseball against UAB friday night. It marked the end of an era. UCF join Conference USA in 2005 and as of July 1st will be a member of the American Athletic Event. Before we look ahead to the future lets take a look back as this week will look back at some of the greatest moments, players, teams, coaches for UCF during Conference USA era. We start with some of the most memorable, greatest moments in program history during CUSA. Now for this list we only include Conference USA events so no Liberty Bowl win over Georgia in Football or win over Florida in Basketball will be on this list as those all occured in non conference action. This is a list of best moments in CUSA Era. To help me go over some of best moments as well players and coaches at UCF is Brandon Helwig of UCFSports.com who is the only non UCF Broadcast media person to have covered UCF all 8 years of the CUSA Era. Listen below as well as check out my top 25 moments in UCF Athletics during Conference USA era.
1-Conference Champions (football) – 12/1/07 UCF 44 Tulsa 25 : In almost a complete reversal of the ’05 title game, the Knights were champions of C-USA for the first time. Kevin Smith scampered for 284 yards and four touchdowns in the game, putting him within striking distance of Barry Sanders single season rushing record with the bowl game to go.
2-End the Streak (football) – 9/24/05 : UCF 23 Marshall 13 . Euphoria erupts when the Knights win their first ever football game in C-USA and in doing so, snap a 17 game losing skid. In a moment that will live in UCF lore, the goalposts were torn down at the Citrus Bowl and carted back to the Reflection Pond on campus. The victory would set the tone for a surprising season that culminated in an East Division title.
3-Storm the Court (men’s basketball) – 1/18/12 : UCF 68 Memphis 67 Previously winless over the Tigers in 10 matchups, the Knights finally got over the hump against the conference’s premier team. An and one with four seconds left from Keith Clanton would send the UCF faithful onto the court. While some thought the fans’ display went overboard, it was a special moment that will be remembered by every one of the 8,000 plus that was in the arena that night.
4-Speraw Magicical year at Old Arena (men’s basketball) – 2/29/07 UCF 75 Houston 72 (overtime) : Mike O’Donnell hit a three with under 30 seconds to go to take the lead for good and the Knights locked up a 2nd place regular season finish in CUSA. The win and 22-9 campaign help give Kirk Speraw a contract extension after the season. Speraw won CUSA Coach of the year.
5- UCF Softball Knocks off 9th rank Houston to Win CUSA Title- 5/10/08- UCF 4 #9 Houston 2 : Freshman Tiffany Lane hit two-run home run in the sixth inning off 3-time CUSA Pitcher of the year Angel Shamblin to help lead the UCF softball team to a, 4-2, win over host and defendng CUSA Champions, 9th rank Houston (50-9) to win the 2008 Conference USA Softball Championship title. It cap off an incredible run after the Knghts started in CUSA in 2006 finishing in place. Legendary pitcher Allison Kime picked up the win in the circle for the Knights, allowing only one earned run on seven hits, while striking out seven batters. Kime would end up with 24 strikeouts over the weekend and went 3-0 including the win over her arch rival Shamblin. The game was also the program first ever game on National TV as it was broadcasted by then CBS College Sports.
6- Let’s Play Three (men’s basketball) – 1/12/08 UCF 97 Tulsa 91 (triple overtime) The first ever C-USA game inside the new UCF Arena was a classic. Seven of Jermaine Taylor’s 28 points came in the third overtime period as the Knights outlasted the Golden Hurricane.
T-7- UCF Track Field Dynasty 4th straight CUSA Title Outdoors – 5/13/13- the No. 12 UCF track and field team made history this past year as they became first women’s program in Conference USA history to win four-straight outdoor championships. They scored a program-best 167 points – outscoring runner-up SMU by 67.5 points — while hauling in 17 medals, six of which were gold. The Knights were led by Aurieyall Scott who earned the distinction for the third-straight year of being the high point scorer which stands as the most by a male or female athlete since C-USA started bestowing the award in 2007. This championship would also be UCF last conference championship for all sports as a member in CUSA.
T-7 UCF Track and Field Win CUSA Indoor title- 2/24/13- UCF Track and Field won Indoor CUSA Championship for 2nd time in 3 years (2011,2013) in Birmingham. This Championship will be remembered by the defining moment of the day and maybe of the 2013 UCF Athletic season when the Knights sprinters swept the podium of the 60 meters . Aurieyall Scott bested the meet record, the school record and her personal record with a blistering performance of 7.13, which ranked as the NCAA’s new leading time. Octavious Freeman earned silver at 7.22 and Faulknor clinched the first medal of her career with a bronze finish and new PR time of 7.43. Scott would go on to win NCAA Championship in the 60 meters becoming the first Knight ever to win a National Championship. Freeman finished 3rd getting the bronze in the Championship.
8-Pack the House for Champions (football) – 12/3/05 Tulsa 44 UCF 27 : A record crowd of 51,978 packed the Citrus Bowl to see the inaugural C-USA Championship Game. While the Knights did not come up on the winning end that day, it showed that significant support was in place for the program. A little under two weeks later, the UCF Board of Trustees would greenlight plans for an on-campus stadium.
9- Scaling the Mountain top Again (football) – 12/4/10 UCF 17 SMU 7 : Sacking Mustangs quarterback Kyle Padron three times on the final drive, UCF put the finishing touches on a defensive win as they beat June Jones and SMU to win the program’s second C-USA Championship. This triumph would set the scene for the Knights’ first ever bowl win over Georgia at Liberty Bowl.
10- Going Out On Top , UCF Women Soccer Win Elusive CUSA Tournament – 11/4/12 #20 UCF 2 Tulsa 0 : Amanda Cromwell had led the program to four CUSA Championship regular season titles but never the conference tournament. That would change in 2012 as the Knights won their first conference tournament title in a 2-0 win over the Golden Hurricane in El Paso, Texas to capture the title on what would be the Knights last ever game as CUSA member in Women’s Soccer.
11- Getting Ranked (football) – 11/5/10 UCF 40 Houston 33 : In a wild friday night game in Houston on ESPN, UCF held off the Cougars, breaking up a David Piland pass on 4th down to thwart a late rally. Jeff Godfrey had arguably his best game in his career under center, going 15-19 for 294 yards, rushing for 105 more, and accounting for three touchdowns. Knights Defensive Bruce Miller had one of more memorable touchdowns in program history on an INT for a touchdown. The following week, the Knights entered the polls for the first time in team history, ranked 23rd by USA Today and 25th by the Associated Press.
12-UCF Women Soccer Dominate to Title on Senior Night – 10/30/09 : The No. 8 UCF women’s soccer team capped off its regular season by winning its ninth-straight match in a 4-0 win over Southern Miss Friday in front of 1,048 fans at home on Senior Night. The win lock up the Knights 3rd regular season title out right. It was also on the night that the program honored one of greatest senior class in program history as on senior night, A total of seven seniors competed in their final home game of their careers Friday: Yvonne George, Lynzee Lee, Emily Maynard, Nikki Moore, Amaka Ofuani, Becca Thomas and Courtney Whidden. George, Moore, Thomas and Whidden all first arrived in 2006, and they helped UCF to 3 straight NCAA tournaments (07-09), as well as 2 conference championships (07,09).
13- Rompza Become Mr. Bigshot (men’s basketball) – 2/14/09 UCF 74 Tulsa 72 : In a recurring theme of close games against Tulsa, freshman A.J. Rompza started to write his legacy with a buzzer-beating runner in the paint that sent the UCF Arena into hysterics. Jermaine Taylor also did some heavy lifting, scoring 35, which sent him past Ken Leeks as the program’s all-time leading scorer in the Division 1 era.
14-Playing For the Title (baseball) – 5/19/12 Rice 5 UCF 2 : UCF Baseball Head Coach Terry Rooney said it was his most memorable moment in his time at UCF. It one of the most anticipated weekends in UCF Athletics history. With a chance to capture their first regular season title in C-USA, this Sunday was the dawning of a new day for UCF Baseball. A program record 6,601 attended the three game series between Rice and UCF with the winner of the series winning CUSA title. Ultimately, the Knights came up short in their quest which game down to the last game of the series won by Rice 5-2. But the Knights Baseball program had finally reached a place they had been expected to since joining the conference in 2006.
15- Winning Streak (men’s basketball) – 1/5/11 #18 UCF 65 Marshall 58 : Riding high, UCF was ranked in the top 25 in both polls for first time in program history stretched their record to 14-0 in new head coach Donnie Jones’ first game versus his former team. The C-USA opener drew a crowd of 9,094 who saw Marcus Jordan score 26 points. Fans also got to celebrate the football Liberty Bowl and CUSA Championship wins as fans got the opportunity to celebrate the UCF football team’s historic season by taking a photo with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and C-USA Championship trophies.
16-BHNS is “Upset City” (football) – 11/14/09 UCF 37 # 12 Houston 32 : UCF gains their first win over a ranked opponent in program history when they squelched a five game winning streak from the top 15 Cougars. After gaining an early 17 point lead, the Knights held off one of the nation’s most prolific passers, Case Keenum. Brynn Harvey rank for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win. After a disappointing 4-8 record in 2008, the Knights wrapped up bowl eligibility with the victory.
17- Comeback that Turn the Season Around- 11/2/09 UCF 21 Marshall 20 : The Knights were down 20-7 and it appeared to drop to 4-4 record with games at Texas and home game vs Houston who was in top 25 still looming. Look like another loss season in the works. Except The Knights on this Sunday Night in front of an ESPN TV audience came back from a 13-point deficit with two fourth-quarter touchdowns – the final one with 23 seconds to play on a Brett Hodges to Rocky Ross from 1 yard out. The Knights only got the ball back after Marshall fumbled the ball trying to run the clock out. UCF would go on to go 8-4 on the season including program first win over top 25 team as the Knights upset Houston and play in St Pete Bowl. Would this had happen though if the Knights did not come back against Marshall?
18- UCF Women Basketball Go Dancing- 3/8/09- UCF 65 So Miss 54 in OT : Emma Cannon scored 16 pts and 15 rebounds to lead the Knights who were the 5th seed coming into the tournament to a 62-51 win over So. Miss to lead the Knights Womens Basketball program back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.
19- UCF Bowl Eligible – 11/5/05 – UCF 31 Houston 29 : UCF became bowl eligible on this homecoming game as they held off a late run by Cougars Quarterback Kevin Kolb as the Knights won 31-29. Houston had the ball on its own 45 yard line with 1:29 remaining in the contest, but Kevin Kolb was sacked by senior Paul Carrington and then threw three incomplete passes. The Knights 6th win with bowl tie ins in CUSA guranteed the Knights a bowl game for first time in program history in an electric atmosphere at the Citrus Bowl. Houston was coached by Art Briles who currently the Head Coach at Baylor.
20- UCF Men’s Golf Win first of three straight CUSA Titles- 4/21/09 : Behind the play of junior Simon Ward and freshman Blayne Barber, the 19th-ranked UCF men’s golf team claimed the 2009 Conference USA Championship which was the program first tile since 2004 A-Sun title. The Knights would go on to win NCAA Regional and advance to NCAA National Championship where they end up finishing 10th out of 30 teams. Golf Coach Nick Clinard was name CUSA Coach of the Year and Selected as the Eaton/Golf Pride Southeast Region Coach of the Year. Clinard would leave UCF to go to Auburn where he has help built Auburn as one of the top golf programs in the country.
21- UCF Wins First East division- 11/19/05 – UCF 31 Rice 28 : The Knights needed a win to win first ever CUSA Eastern Division title. But it was not easy. The Knights had to come back from a 21-9 deficit at Rice and lost Wide Receiver Mike Walker for the season with injury. UCF quarterback Steven Moffett threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall with 1:25 left, giving UCF a 31-28 win over the Owls and a spot in the Conference USA title game a year after going winless.
22- UCF Men Soccer upset # 5 SMU – 10/2/10 – UCF 2 #5 SMU 1 : Spencer Scott scored in the 66th minute of the game to give the Knights men soccer program its first ever win over top 25 team as they upset 5th rank SMU 2-1 in front of a large crowd of 1,091 at UCF Soccer Complex. It was a win that also showed that Bryan Cunningham’s team was for real as they would end up making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
23- Smith Topples 2000 (football) – 11/24/07 UCF 36 UTEP 20 : On his way to the second best rushing campaign in Division 1 history, Kevin Smith became just the 13th back in history to go over 2,000 yards in a season with a seven yard carry in the second quarter. UCF also clinched their second C-USA East Division title and berth into the Championship Game.
24- UCF Women Basketball Win 2nd CUSA Title in 3 yrs. UCF 85 Tulane 73 : The Knights capped of a wild run in the CUSA Tournament coming in as 2 seed that saw them having to come back from 15 down to beat UAB in the quarterfinals. No such issue as the Knights won CUSA Title 85-73 over Tulane to win 2nd CUSA Tournament title and advance to NCAA Tournament.
25- UCF Softball’s first to Host CUSA Tournament . – 5/10/07- UCF 5 Marshall 3 : UCF Softball became first UCF program to host one of the major CUSA Conference Tournament on campus as it hosted the six team double elimination tournament. The Knights had a dramatic come from behind win over Marshall as the Knights fell behind early 3-0 by scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the 5th to defeat the Herd 5-3 in the opening round. The Knights would go to go 3-2 in the tournament reaching the semi-finals before losing in 12 innings over East Carolina 1-0. Houston would win CUSA Championship 1-0 over East Carolina led by star pitcher Angel Shamblin who was the tournament mvp. UCF Track and Field, Women Basketball, Golf,, Tennis would also host C-USA Tournament. Baseball and Men Basketball never did. UCF Football hosted inagural CUSA Football Championship in 05 at Citrus Bowl and 07 Title game at Bright House.
UCF Women Soccer Sequal CUSA Back to Back – 10/20/10 – UCF 6 So Miss 0 : The Knights for the 2nd straight season got to celebrate CUSA Championship at home as the Knights destroyed So Miss 6-0 to win its 4th CUSA regular season title in six seasons. This day also mark a first as the Knights had a doubleheader of CUSA Soccer with the Men’s team hosting UAB right before the women’s game. The Knights would also host 2010 CUSA Tournament the following week where they end up losing to Memphis in the championshp game 1-0.
UCF Volleyball makes run to CUSA Championship Game in 2012 before losing to host Tulsa.
UCF Softball makes run to CUSA Championship Game in 2010 with come from behind wins against Utep and Memphis before losing to East Carolina in Championship Game in Houston.
Special Thanks to UCFSports.com, Brandon Helwig, UCFAthletics.com , Carson Ingle, Ryan Bass, Matt Brodsky as well as UCF Coaches for contributions on this list.
Best UCF Moments in CUSA on ELOOnline by Eric Lopez