South Carolina/Central Florida Play of the Game
In Saturday's contest between the Gamecocks and Central Florida Knights, there was an offense on display in the first half that was taking control.
And that was Central Florida.
The Knights opened the game with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that put them up 7-0 early in the game and showed that they came to play against the No. 11-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. They sustained a few drives into the second quarter, including one that ended in a field goal, and were up 10-0 on the Gamecocks.
After the field goal, South Carolina faltered on its next drive stalled out at the Gamecocks 45-yard line. With Central Florida taking over on the South Carolina 36-yard line after the Gamecocks punt, the Knights were on the move. They picked up a first down in two plays and were stalled on a third play in the series. The fourth play would be a momentum-changing one in this game in favor of South Carolina.
On this play, quarterback Blake Bortles of Central Florida lined up in the shotgun with three receivers and a running back in the backfield. Bortles seemed keyed in to his right on wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Perriman lines up with Victor Hampton across from with Hampton playing off the line of scrimmage, nearly 10 yards away from Perriman. The ball is snapped and Bortles immediately fires to his right. Perriman is running a post-route on Hampton and cuts towards the inside of the field around the 20-yard line. Hampton, recognizing the play from afar, makes his cut towards the ball and jumped in front of Perriman as the ball arrives at the receiver. Hampton grabs the pass and returns five yards to the Gamecocks 28-yard line.
At this point in the game, there is under two minutes left in the first half with Central Florida in scoring range. The Knights were driving the ball and had been able to move the ball on South Carolina's defense most of the first half. If the Knights pulled off a touchdown on this drive, or even a field goal, South Carolina is looking at a 13-point deficit heading into halftime and making the opening drive of the second half all that much more crucial.
Instead, the Gamecocks get the turnover and drive down field in the first half before a lobbed interception at the UCF 20-yard line ended the first half. Still, the key thing was stopping the drive and keeping the lead manageable for the Gamecocks. The 10-point deficit didn't hold as the Gamecocks used Mike Davis in the second half to run up 28 straight points before closing out a close victory over Central Florida.
The play of Mike Davis was key for South Carolina but this interception seemingly changed the game for the Gamecocks.