Glendale, AR - The Central Florida football team made plenty of history on New Year’s Day.
Storm Johnson ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns and Blake Bortles accounted for four touchdowns as the Associated Press No. 15 Golden Knights defeated No. 6 Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl.
In the first BCS bowl for either school, and in the final year of the BCS, Central Florida snapped a 28-28 tie and took the lead for good with two scores late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Bortles, who threw for 301 yards, found Breshad Perriman for a 10-yard touchdown that gave the American Athletic Conference champions a 35-28 lead with 5:38 to play in the third.
A minute and a half into the fourth, Bortles capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run that made it a 42-28 game.
Central Florida (12-1) set the school-record for wins in a season and won their third straight bowl game. In 10 years at the Orlando, Florida school, coach George O’Leary has gone from an 0-11 record in his first season in 2004 to a school-record for wins, including the biggest one in the school’s history.
Big 12 champion Baylor (11-2), which was playing on New Year’s Day for the first time since the 1981 Cotton Bowl, got within 42-35 on a nine-yard scoring run from Giasco Martin, but Johnson exploded for a 40-yard touchdown run and Shawn Moffitt booted a 36-yard field goal and Central Florida led 52-35 with just over five minutes left in the game.
The teams came into the night with highly-rated offenses - Baylor was the nation’s leader in total offense and scoring, while Central Florida was no slouch averaging over 33 points - and neither unit disappointed. The 94 points set a Fiesta Bowl record, topping the 86 scored in the 1996 game when Nebraska won the national title, 62-24 over Florida.
Central Florida, which improved to 3-3 in bowl games since playing in its first one in 2005, never trailed, but didn’t pull away from Baylor until Bortles’ touchdowns.
The Golden Knights got off to a stunning start, getting two Johnson touchdowns within the first 7:14 of the game. UCF drove 76 yards in six plays, going up 7-0 when Johnson scored from 11 yards at the 11:24 mark of the opening quarter.
Later, Johnson scooted in from two yards out to make it 14-0 midway through the quarter.
Thanks to a 29-yard run by Lache Seastrunk on a third-and-short that got Baylor to the 8, the Bears pulled to within 14-7 on a one-yard run by Bryce Petty with 3:49 to play in the first.
That was the start of a big night for Petty, who rushed for two more touchdowns and added two other passing scores. He and Bortles alternated touchdowns on the next four possessions, which included Petty flipping into the end zone from 13 yards out and Bortles hooking up twice with Rannell Hall - one a 50-yard screen pass that Hall used his elusiveness to turn into a touchdown and the last a 34-yard scoring strike that put Central Florida up 28-20 just before halftime.
Early in the third, Petty’s scooted in from a yard out and also reached the end zone on the two-point conversion to even things at 28-28.