By Leo Haggerty


In a game that was a microcosm of the entire 2021 pigskin campaign for the Bulls, South Florida came up three yards short of an upset as time expired and fell to Central Florida by a count of 17-13 in what has been labeled The War on I-4.  The victory advanced UCF to 8-4 for the season and 5-3 in the American Athletic Conference.  The hard luck loss dropped USF to 2-10 for 2021 and 1-7 in the AAC.

The Knights struck first at 6:16 of the opening period.  Reserve QB Parker Navarro (1 for 3 yards and 1 TD) totted the leather the last three yards to culminate an eight play drive that travelled 63 yards in 3:22.  K Daniel Obarski was good with the extra point and Central Florida jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

The Green & Gold answered with points of their own on the last play of the first quarter.  QB Timmy McClain (18 for -17 yards and 1 TD) carried the pigskin across the goal line from five yards out to cap a 62 yard drive that took 12 plays and 6:16.  K Spencer Shrader booted the PAT and that tied the contest at 7-all after 15 minutes of play.

The second quarter was a defensive struggle until 11 ticks left before halftime.  Black & Gold QB Mikey Keene (14 of 26 for 115 yards and 1 TD) found Brandon Johnson (1 for 7 yards and 1 TD) with a seven yard strike that ended a 1:07 drive that traversed 27 yards in six plays.  Obarski split the uprights and Central Florida took a 14-7 advantage into halftime.

The second half was a battle of field goals.  Shrader connected on two in the third period.  The first was a 41 yard effort on the Bulls opening drive and came at 8:51.  That finishing off a 12 play drive that took 6:07 to go 57 yards to cut the UCF lead to 14-10.

Shrader struck again at 3:16 this time from 36 yards out.  That stopped a 43 yard drive that took 4:44 and nine plays to pull USF within a point at 14-13.

Central Florida would get their three pointer at 8:51 of the final period.  Obarski was true from 32 yards and that put to bed a 10 play drive that took 5:24 to cover 61 yards pushing the Knights to a 17-13 lead

That would be the end of the scoring but not the excitement.  The Bulls would take over at their own 16-yard line with 2:43 left in regulation.  South Florida would get to the UCF three-yard line with nine ticks left on the game clock only to have McClain sacked on the final play of the contest.

Now, it’s back to the drawing board for HC Jeff Scott and his staff.  The Bulls are in desperate need of a GREAT recruiting class as well as adding some quality talent through the transfer portal.

We’ll be keeping an eye on how that transpires for you. Look for our weekly updates, that will continue during basketball season, if anything newsworthy comes out of the Fletcher Avenue campus concerning the gridiron group.