Fantastic Fiesta: Knights Top Baylor 52-42

Fantastic Fiesta: Knights Top Baylor 52-42

For complete coverage of the Knights’ big bowl win, visit www.UCFKnights.com.

To the delight of thousands of loud Knights fans, the youngest university to ever play in a BCS bowl game won a thriller on the largest national stage Wednesday.

UCF defeated No. 6 Baylor 52-42 to win the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, earning a victory that almost no “expert” thought the Knights could achieve.

Knights’ fans were loud throughout the game at University of Phoenix Stadium, particularly in the fourth quarter when UCF put the game away by scoring 17 points and making huge defensive stops. They roared when the Knights (12-1) took the stage to accept the Fiesta Bowl trophy and donned championship hats, soaking in one of the biggest milestones in the university’s history.

“It was memorable,” cheerleader Jacob Serre said while celebrating on the field. “It’s the last game I’ll ever cheer. This (spirit squad) is my family, and what a great way for us to go out. I never doubted our team for a second.”

UCF President John C. Hitt beamed during media interviews on the field, talking about how much fun it was to watch the historic win while also praising the Knights for their success in the classroom. UCF has the second-highest graduation rate among the 10 BCS schools, trailing only Stanford.

“They are student-athletes,” he said. “They are fine young men.”

Harlee Samuels and Erica Brink are friends and former UCF roommates who flew across the country to watch those fine young men.

Brink landed in Arizona at 4 a.m. Wednesday after enduring an emergency landing in Memphis due to engine problems. But her troubles were worth it.

“We live only an hour away and don’t see each other often,” she said during a pregame tailgate party at the stadium. “But we could find the time to fly to Arizona to see each other without any questions being asked.”

Samuels and Brink cheered as Maxwell Glorit and his Marching Knights performed the UCF fight song to enthusiastic fans during the rally. The Marching Knights performed twice for fans before heading into the stadium.

The Fiesta Bowl had an extra special meaning for Glorit, who marched in the Fiesta Bowl parade as a high school freshman seven years ago. Today, he was back in Arizona as a leader and drum major for the Marching Knights.

Glorit enjoyed performing at the rallies and a halftime show that featured songs by Queen, Lady Gaga and The Who. His trip was memorable even before the game kicked off … and then it ended on the perfect note with the biggest win in school history.

“We’re all very excited,” he said. “It’s a first for our university, and we’re soaking it all in.”