ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Matt Grothe threw a 27-yard touchdown pass
to Ean Randolph with 3:27 left in the fourth quarter to lift South
Florida over Central Florida 24-17 on Saturday.
The Golden Knights (1-2) missed a chance to tie with 30 seconds
left, but their 70-yard drive ended when Chris Robinson sacked
Steven Moffett, forcing a fumble the Bulls recovered.
Grothe, a redshirt freshman who won the starting job in the
South Florida's first game after Pat Julmiste got hurt, won his
third straight. He accounted for 375 of South Florida's 433 total
yards, completing 21-of-31 passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns
and one interception.
Moffett looked rusty from the start, ending UCF's first two
possessions with interceptions and nearly tossing another shortly
afterward on a botched timing route. He repeatedly over and
underthrew, missing an open receiver in the end zone on the final
drive that could've tied the game, and finished with 219 yards on
19-of-44 passing and one TD.
Central Florida was without leading rusher and last year's C-USA
freshman of the year Kevin Smith, held out of the game for
disciplinary reasons. Jason Peters racked up 98 yards on 20 carries
in his absence.
Both the Bulls' Trae Williams and UCF's Sha'reff Rashad recorded
their third straight game with an interception.
South Florida's 3-0 start is its second in the program's 10-year
history (the team opened 5-0 in 1998). UCF remains winless against
the Big East (0-10 since 2000).
UCF drew a crowd of 46,000, the third-highest in school history,
with some help from their opponents. A big group of South Florida
fans made the 85-mile trip from Tampa, at times out-shouting the
Central Florida tied the game at 17 with 7:14 left after Jordan
Richards blocked a bobbled punt snap, which Blake Carter scooped up
and ran 31 yards for a touchdown.
But Grothe led South Florida right back on a 90-yard drive
culminating in Randolph's score.
Randolph finished with five catches for 126 yards and the TD,
while UCF's Mike Walker caught 12 for 133 yards.