HONOLULU (AP) -- Nevada proved Central Florida wasn't the only
team to have an amazing turnaround this season.
Jeff Rowe scored on a 4-yard naked bootleg in overtime to lead
the Wolf Pack to a 49-48 victory over the Golden Knights in the
Hawaii Bowl on Saturday night.
UCF kicker Matt Prater, who had three field goals during the
game, missed the tying extra point wide right, giving the Nevada
the win and sending Wolf Pack players running on the field as
stunned Central Florida looked on.
B.J. Mitchell ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns, and Robert
Hubbard had 126 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Wolf
Pack (9-3), who finished with their best season since 1996 and
spoiled Central Florida's bowl debut.
"We knew it was going to be a hard fight," Hubbard said. "The
guys just never gave up and we survived. We had an amazing
comeback. It's a Cinderella season for us as well."
UCF's Brandon Marshall caught a 16-yard pass for a touchdown
that tied the game at 42 with 55 seconds left. The score capped a
four-play, 48-yard drive that took just 37 seconds.
Prater booted a 46-yard field goal with 1:32 left to draw UCF to
42-35, and the Golden Knights recovered the onside kick with no
time-outs left and setting up Marshall's dramatic catch that sent
the game into overtime.
"I guess it hurts a little more because this is my last game,"
said Marshall, who earned MVP honors for his team with 11 catches
for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Trailing 32-28, the Wolf Pack took the lead on Hubbard's 5-yard
touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Nevada scored again on
Rowe's 7-yard scoring pass to Travis Branzell for a 42-32 lead with
However, Central Florida refused to give up.
Earlier this season, the Golden Knights (8-5) ended what was the
nation's longest Division I-A losing streak at 17 games. After
going 0-11 last year, they were trying to tie the 1940 Stanford
team for the second-biggest, one-season turnaround in NCAA football
"It feels like a bad dream. To lose like this is
unbelievable," said Jason Peters, who had 44 yards rushing for the
Prater, who had field goals of 47, 40 and 46 yards and converted
all three of his extra point attempts in regulation, refused to
answer questions in the locker room.
"They should feel bad. That's what winning and losing is all
about," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "You put in so much time
and when you do lose a game, it hurts."
Kevin Smith had 202 yards rushing and three touchdowns including
a 19-yarder in overtime for the Golden Knights, who went 700 days
without a win before defeating Marshall 23-13 in the third game of
The Golden Knights took a 32-28 lead late in the third quarter
on Smith's 3-yard scoring run. The touchdown capped a six-play,
74-yard drive that was kept alive by a late hit, pass interference
and roughing the passer penalties against Nevada.
Earlier in the quarter, Marshall caught a short pass from Steven
Moffett, juked a defender and stiff-armed his way into the end zone
for a 29-yard score to pull the Golden Knights to 28-26.
After a slow start, the Wolf Pack had three straight touchdowns
in the second quarter, including a pair of 1-yard scoring runs by
Mitchell. His second gave Nevada its first lead of the game, 21-17,
and Hubbard's 24-yard TD run put the Wolf Pack up by 11.
Nevada, making its first postseason appearance since the 1996
Las Vegas Bowl and sixth overall, had a 28-20 lead at halftime.
"We are not a big, great talented team, but we play with this
big heart," said Nevada coach Chris Ault, the Western Athletic
Conference coach of the year.
The Wolf Pack, who shared the Western Athletic Conference title
with Boise State, had 219 yards rushing in the first half,
including 102 by Mitchell and 83 by Hubbard.
The Golden Knights wasted no time in their bowl debut, scoring
on their first three possessions.
Marshall made a one-handed, juggling catch for a 51-yard
touchdown on the fourth play of the game. On UCF's next series,
Smith broke a 78-yard TD run along the right sideline to put the
Golden Knights up 14-0. The run was the longest of Smith's young
career and the second best in UCF history behind Elgin Davis'
79-yard run in 1986.
Smith carried eight times for 117 rushing yards in the first
Nevada got on the scoreboard on Hubbard's 4-yard TD run that cut
Central Florida's lead to a touchdown with 8:33 left in the first.
The score was setup by a 59-yard run by Mitchell.
Hubbard's 49-yard run helped setup Nevada's first touchdown of
the 21-point second quarter. He found a hole in the middle of the
line and was dragged down by Johnell Neal at Central Florida's 1.
Mitchell scored on the next play, powering through the line, to
draw Nevada within a field goal.