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Central Florida beats Temple on last play

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- After the Central Florida defense saved the day last week in a close victory over Houston, it was the offense's turn for last-minute heroics on Saturday.

Shawn Moffitt's 23-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Knights to a 39-36 victory over Temple. The victory enables the 17th-ranked Knights (8-1, 5-0) to remain in control of their own destiny in the American Athletic Conference. The conference champion receives an automatic bid to a BCS bowl.

The winning field goal was set up by Blake Bortles' 64-yard pass to Rannell Hall that took the ball to the Owls' 6-yard line with nine seconds remaining. Bortles was leveled by Temple linebacker Nate D. Smith, but he was able to find Hall. The receiver beat Temple cornerback Anthony Robey and got the ball in stride at the 35 before Robey caught him at the 6.

"As I was racing toward the end zone, I was so excited and I was like, 'This is going to win the game,'" Hall said. "Once I got tackled, I was worried about time on the clock because I knew we had only like 13 seconds left (at the start of the play). It's a great feeling."

"It's another great example of us executing our two-minute drill," said Bortles, who threw for a career-high 404 yards. "J.J. (Worton) had a huge catch and we were able to get the ball back and then (Rannell) was the guy. It's about taking advantage of our opportunities, but we need to tighten things up."

In a play that will be watched and talked about time and again in Orlando, Worton's one-handed circus catch of a 30-yard pass at the back of the end zone with 1:06 remaining brought UCF even at 36-36. It was Bortles' fourth touchdown pass of the game to tie a career high, capping a four-play, 70-yard desperation drive.

"It was a broken play and it was a route in which I had to go deep, and somehow I got a hand on it and came down with it," Worton said. "I have never had a catch like that before, not in practice and not in a game."

For Temple, it was another case of last-minute disappointment. In their last outing, two weeks ago at Rutgers, the Owls lost with 35 seconds remaining.

"It certainly is exciting at the end of these games, but I would like to come out on the winning end," coach Matt Rhule said. "I am extremely disappointed and it's a shame how the game ended. We could not get a stop in the two-minute (drill), which has been a problem for us all year."

The Owls (1-9/0-6 AAC) have lost four games by three points or less.

"That's not on the coaches; that's on us," Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich said. "We get it done for 59 and a half minutes, but we can't finish. We can hang with anybody, and we're just on the short end of the stick right now."

The Owls appeared to be on the winning end after they had taken a 34-29 lead on P.J. Walker's 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Parthermore with 2:04 remaining. Walker's two-point conversion pass to Parthermore made it a seven-point game.

With 6:37 remaining, UCF took a 29-28 lead when Bortles found Worton across the middle and the receiver raced to the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown to cap an 84-yard drive.

"Rannell Hall and J.J. Worton had a great second half," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "Temple put a lot of pressure on us in the second half as far as blitzing. It was a good win and I'm very happy to have the win the way it worked out."

Walker, a freshman making his fifth start, completed 26-of-44 passes for 382 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, four through the air.

There were 10 lead changes and the teams combined for 1,175 yards.

NOTES: With four touchdown passes, QB Blake Bortles moved into fourth place on the UCF career list with 50. Daunte Culpepper is the all-time leader with 84. ... Storm Johnson's 73-yard run in the first half was the UCF junior's career long. ... UCF WR Breshad Perriman did not play. He suffered a head injury last week against Houston and was held out for precautionary reasons. ... The game was the first meeting between the teams.
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