UCF made the short trip over to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl and turned it into a long night for Ball State. The Knights scored an impressive 38-17 victory at Tropicana Field, shutting down a Cardinals offense that averaged 35 points per game this season. Here’s a quick look at how it went down:
It was over when: After Ball State kicked a field goal to make the score 28-10, the Cardinals attempted an onsides kick. It didn’t work, and UCF needed just seven plays to turn that good field position into a touchdown. Blake Bortles found J.J. Worton for a 7-yard touchdown pass and a 35-10 lead. You couldn’t blame Ball State coach Pete Lembo for gambling, because his defense had no answers all night long for the Knights, who led 28-7 at halftime and controlled both sides of the ball.
Game ball goes to: Bortles. The sophomore quarterback bounced back from a rough day in the Conference USA title game loss to Tulsa for a terrific all-around performance. He completed 22-of-32 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and he also ran for 79 yards and a score. Bortles did a great job of extending plays with his feet, especially in the red zone, and he didn’t turn the ball over. Running back Latavius Murray caught two of Bortles’ touchdown passes and ran for another.
Stat of the game: 68. That’s how many rushing yards Ball State had in the game. The Cardinals averaged 214 rushing yards per game this season but couldn’t find much room against UCF’s defense and had to play from behind all night. Bortles outrushed Ball State all by himself.
Unsung hero of the game: UCF freshman receiver Breshad Perriman had five catches for 90 yards, helping set up two first-half scores. Perriman had only 298 receiving yards in the regular season.
What it means: UCF won its second bowl game and first since downing Georgia in the 2010 Liberty Bowl. The Knights seniors became the winningest class in school history with their 34th victory. A 10-win season should set the program up well for its entry next season into the Big East, however that league may end up looking. … A strong season by Ball State ended with familiar disappointment. The program is now 0-6 all time in bowls.