Scores

Final

UCF 15

(0-1, 0-1 away)

South Carolina 24

(1-0, 1-0 home)

7:30 PM ET, September 1, 2005

Williams-Brice Stadium, COLUMBIA, SC

1 2 3 4 T
UCF 3 0 10 215
SCAR 14 3 7 024

Top Performers

Passing: B. Mitchell (SCAR) - 330 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: K. Smith (UCF) - 13 CAR, 47 YDS

Receiving: M. Walker (UCF) - 9 REC, 105 YDS, 1 TD

South Carolina holds off Central Florida down the stretch

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- This was hardly like old times for the Ol' Ball Coach.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had a new black visor and the same offensive style, but he needed a fourth-down stop by his defense with less than three minutes to go to save a 24-15 victory over Central Florida in his return to college football Thursday night.

Spurrier's record in season openers
Team/School Record
'05, U. of South Carolina 1-0
'02-'03, Redskins 2-0
'90-'01, U. of Florida 12-0
'87-'89, Duke University 2-1
'83-'85, Bandits (USFL) 3-0

"It was a tough night," Spurrier said. "But we're 1-0 and we're not going to sit around and cry about it because we could've lost the dadgum thing."

Blake Mitchell, a sophomore making his first start, threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns for the Gamecocks (1-0).

Despite the late charge, the Golden Knights (0-1) extended the country's longest losing streak to 16 games -- the past 12 under former Georgia Tech and Notre Dame coach George O'Leary.

After falling behind 24-3, UCF rallied in the final quarter with Mike Walker's 13-yard touchdown catch and John Brown's field goal.

Minutes later, the Golden Knights had a fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 2:50 left, but Kevin Smith was stopped short trying leap for the end zone by linebacker Ricardo Hurley and defensive lineman Ryan Brown.

Still, South Carolina could not put this one away. Punter Josh Brown ran out of the end zone for a safety and the Golden Knights got the ball back in the final minute on an onside kick. But time ran out on UCF and Spurrier improved to 15-1 all-time in opening games.

For the first three quarters, this one was all about Spurrier. The former Florida coach was back in the Southeastern Conference after two disappointing seasons with the Washington Redskins and another one out of the game entirely.

The sold-out crowd of 82,753 at Williams-Brice Stadium couldn't wait to see their newest hero take the sidelines. They packed the State Fairgrounds across from the stadium hours before kickoff and even cheered loudly in the middle of the pre-game prayer when Spurrier's name was mentioned.

Spurrier said the crowd was alive and enthusiastic until the Gamecocks bogged down in the second half. For him, it was like he'd never left the college game.

ESPN.com's 2005 Primer
  • SportsNation Pulse: Preview
  • Ivan Maisel's 3-Point Stance
  • Pat Forde: Who's No. 2?
  • Jim Donnan's viewer's guide
  • Beano Cook: A lasting impression
  • Top 25 preview
  • Dan Shanoff: Hot/Not
  • Picks: Savoring mismatches
  • Craig James: Happy New Year!
  • Todd McShay: Don't miss it
  • "It felt very similar," Spurrier said, "calling plays, getting them in there. Chucked a few deep, hit some, missed some."

    It didn't take long for Spurrier to show off the "Cock-n-Fire" offense.

    Five plays into the opening drive, Mitchell faked a handoff to Bobby Wallace, stepped back and hit Noah Whiteside in stride for a 49-yard touchdown with 12:46 left in the first quarter.

    Mitchell was firing again the next time South Carolina got the ball, finding Mike Davis on a short dump pass that went for 64 yards. Tight end Andy Boyd capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown catch to put the Gamecocks up 14-0 less than eight minutes into the game.

    Mitchell, who had completed only 9 of 22 passes in his career, connected on 15 of 19 in the opening half. His 283 yards passing by halftime surpassed the Gamecocks totals of every game but one from last season.

    Mitchell finished 18-for-23.

    But this was far from the scoring machine Spurrier built over 12 seasons at Florida.

    Mitchell missed a wide-open Travis Lee on South Carolina's third series that would've easily gone for another TD.

    Mitchell got a third TD, flipping a pass out to the flat to Syvelle Newton -- last year's starting quarterback -- who went 25 yards for the score in the third quarter for a 24-3 lead.

    Just when it looked like Spurrier had the Gamecocks rolling, UCF came back.

    Spurrier has said the Gamecocks are a ways out from competing for an SEC title. They showed that at times against UCF.

    After Mitchell drove the Gamecocks to UCF's 16, he was sacked twice and South Carolina missed a 50-yard field goal try.

    On another series South Carolina moved from its 8 to UCF's 5. Again, the Gamecocks faltered in the red zone, settling for Josh Brown's 22-yard field goal.

    In the third quarter when backup quarterback Antonio Heffner fumbled the snap, Spurrier slammed his papers to the ground in disgust.

    And things figure to get rougher next week when the Gamecocks go to Georgia in Spurrier's first SEC game in four years. Bulldogs fans remember all too well how Florida scored a late touchdown in a 52-17 blowout in 1995 so the Gators could be the first opponent to hit the half-century mark at Sanford Stadium.

    "We got to get better on defense, we got to get better on offense, we got to get better everywhere," Spurrier said. "Simple as that."

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    UCF
    SCAR
    1st Downs2217
    Total Yards341362
    Passing258330
    Rushing8332
    Penalties5-415-25
    3rd Down Conversions8-191-8
    4th Down Conversions1-31-2
    Turnovers13
    Possession35:3024:30

    Passing Leaders

    UCFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
    Moffett27/392586.611-
    South CarolinaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
    Mitchell18/2333014.330-

    Rushing Leaders

    UCFCARYDSAVGTDLG
    Smith13473.6016
    Peters13413.208
    South CarolinaCARYDSAVGTDLG
    Newton12020.0020
    Davis11141.304

    Receiving Leaders

    UCFRECYDSAVGTDLG
    Marshall1010210.2020
    Walker910511.7127
    South CarolinaRECYDSAVGTDLG
    Newton66310.5125
    Davis37926.3064

    Scoring Summary

    FIRST QUARTERUCFSCAR
    TD12:46NOAH WHITESIDE 49 YD PASS FROM BLAKE MITCHELL (JOSH BROWN KICK)
    Drive info: 5 plays, 76 yards.
    07
    TD7:17ANDY BOYD 12 YD PASS FROM BLAKE MITCHELL (JOSH BROWN KICK)
    Drive info: 6 plays, 79 yards.
    014
    FG3:15MATT PRATER 37 YD FG
    Drive info: 10 plays, 61 yards.
    314
    SECOND QUARTERUCFSCAR
    FG2:46JOSH BROWN 22 YD FG
    Drive info: 12 plays, 87 yards.
    317
    THIRD QUARTERUCFSCAR
    TD6:35SYVELLE NEWTON 25 YD PASS FROM BLAKE MITCHELL (JOSH BROWN KICK)
    Drive info: 5 plays, 77 yards.
    324
    FOURTH QUARTERUCFSCAR
    TD12:59MIKE WALKER 13 YD PASS FROM STEVEN MOFFETT (JOHN BROWN KICK)
    Drive info: 3 plays, 17 yards.
    1024
    FG6:05JOHN BROWN 29 YD FG
    Drive info: 10 plays, 43 yards.
    1324
    S0:57TEAM SAFETY1524