|Date of game: 9/14/2013
Recap: Penn State vs. UCF
University Park, PA (Sports Network) - Blake Bortles threw three touchdown passes to lift the UCF Knights to a 34-31 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in a non-conference battle at Beaver Stadium.
Bortles completed 20-of-27 pass attempts for 288 yards for UCF (3-0), which improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1988. J.J. Worton had a strong showing as well, making seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Storm Johnson racked up 117 yards and a score on 17 carries while Jeff Godfrey contributed 78 all-purpose yards. Junior linebacker Terrance Plummer anchored the defense with 11 total tackles and a forced fumble.
In his second career start at home for Penn State (2-1), Christian Hackenberg passed for 262 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions on 21-of-28 efficiency. Allen Robinson had a huge day with nine receptions for 143 yards and a score. Zach Zwinak made an impact as well as he racked up 128 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. The Nittany Lions had won four games in a row dating back to last season.
UCF was impressive on its opening drive, moving the ball 89 yards down the field on 13 plays. The visitors took a 7-0 lead as Bortles completed a four- yard touchdown pass to Johnson just under seven minutes after kickoff.
The Nittany Lions came right back with a 10-play, 77-yard drive that Zwinak concluded with a four-yard scamper for six points. Sam Ficken's successful extra point conversion tied the score with 4:26 showing on the clock.
After the Knights' defense stopped PSU on fourth-and-six in their own territory, Johnson put them back ahead with a 58-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the second quarter. UCF forced another three-and-out by the hosts and created more distance on the scoreboard as Bortles threw a five-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Worton.
The Nittany Lions put together a promising drive when Hackenberg and company returned to the gridiron, but a sack by E.J. Dunston disturbed the rhythm and PSU had to settle for a 47-yard field goal by Ficken.
Bortles came into the contest with a streak of 217 pass attempts without an interception, which was the longest active streak in the nation and spanned eight games. The junior signal caller had his streak come to an end as he was picked off by Malcolm Willis just out side of the red zone.
PSU scrambled to put more points on the board after taking over with 1:17 left before halftime, but Ficken's 57-yard field goal try landed short and it went into halftime trailing, 21-10.
Bortles made up for his first interception of the campaign after the break as he completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reese with 8:46 to go in the third quarter. The Nittany Lions responded just over a minute later with a touchdown of their own as Zwinak ran nine yards for a score.
UCF threatened once again when it took over possession and it appeared to score a touchdown on a carry by Bortles, but the official review showed his was down and an illegal procedure call forced the Knights to settle for a 22- yard field goal by Shawn Moffitt, which gave them a 31-17 lead as the game progressed into the fourth quarter.
PSU cut the deficit in half as Zwinak scored on a one-yard touchdown run thirty seconds into the final period.
UCF had another drive come up short, but made it a two-possession game once again as Moffitt made a 36-yard field goal. The Nittany Lions kept the pressure on as Hackenberg found Robinson for a five-yard touchdown pass. Ficken's successful extra point try left UCF ahead, 34-31, with 2:51 remaining.
The Nittany Lions never got a chance to tie as UCF managed to run out the clock to secure the road win.
After holding its first two opponents to an average of 221.5 yards of total offense per game, PSU allowed the Knights to amass 507 yards of total offense on 65 plays. The Nittany Lions produced 455 yards of offense in the losing effort.Game Notes