Bortles, UCF stun No. 6 Baylor in Fiesta Bowl
In its first BCS bowl, Central Florida got four total touchdowns from quarterback Blake Bortles and three from running back Storm Johnson in a 52-42 Fiesta Bowl victory.
Seattle Times news services
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Central Florida was supposed to be a patsy for Baylor in its first BCS bowl. The Knights wanted no part of it, turning the Fiesta Bowl into a big-play party.
Blake Bortles threw for 301 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, Storm Johnson ran for three more scores, and No. 15 Central Florida pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the bowl season by outlasting No. 6 Baylor 52-42 on Wednesday night.
“There’s not many outside of us who believe we had a chance, but we did and I think we showed what UCF football is all about,” Bortles said.
A 17-point underdog, Central Florida (12-1) didn’t back down from the big, bad Bears, racing past the nation’s top offensive team with an array of big plays.
The Knights jumped out to an early 14-point lead and kept rolling, piling up 556 total yards in the highest-scoring game in Fiesta Bowl history.
Rannell Hall had four catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Johnson ran for 124 yards to give the Knights a rousing BCS bowl debut.
“Every week was a great adventure,” UCF coach George O’Leary said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but these guys found a way to win and that’s what it’s all about.”
Baylor (11-2) had a hard time keeping up with the Knights, gaining 550 total yards but losing 135 on 17 penalties.
Bortles threw for three touchdowns on 20-of-31 passing and ran for another score.
Bryce Petty ran for three touchdowns and threw for 356 yards and two more scores for Baylor. Lache Seastrunk ran for 117 yards.
The Fiesta Bowl was the BCS coming-out party for Baylor and Central Florida before college football’s switch to a playoff system next season.
The Bears had been building toward this since Art Briles became coach in 2009, winding up his high-octane offense to lead the nation in scoring and churn out the second-most yards in FBS history. They also were playing in their first BCS bowl game.
Central Florida had a slower rise under O’Leary.
The coach who was fired by Notre Dame five days after being hired for lying on his resume has built his reputation back up in Orlando, taking a program that went winless in 2004 to the inaugural American Athletic Conference title and automatic BCS berth this year.
The entire nation saw the youngest program ever to win a BCS bowl come of age Wednesday night.
“It’s priceless,” UCF President John Hitt said. “You can’t buy the exposure of getting on prime-time TV on New Year’s night.”