LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Blake Bortles and Central Florida had one last rally left, and it was enough to topple Teddy Bridgewater and No. 8 Louisville.
Bortles threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Godfrey with 23 seconds remaining and the Knights stunned the Cardinals with a 38-35 victory on Friday night, ending Louisville’s perfect start.
“I said, ‘Let’s get some two-minute calls ready,’ ” Bortles said. “We knew we were going to have to go two-minute. … Our offensive line did a great job and our receivers did a great job of getting yards after the catch.”
Down 28-7 midway through the third quarter, the Knights (5-1 overall, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) responded with three touchdowns in a 4:20 span. Storm Johnson had a 1-yard TD run and a 20-yard reception for another score, and William Stanback ran 12 yards for the tying score.
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UCF went in front on Shawn Moffitt’s 34-yard field goal with 7:36 remaining.
Louisville (6-1, 2-1) reclaimed the lead on Dominique Brown’s 15-yard run, but the Knights drove 75 yards in 11 plays to take the lead for good on Bortles’ touchdown pass.
Bridgewater made one last desperate heave into the end zone as time expired, but the Heisman Trophy contender was unable to find anyone.
“What can you say? It was a heck of a game,” Knights coach George O’Leary said. “Both teams played their hearts out. That was a great drive and it was a great win in a tough environment.”
Bortles finished 21 of 32 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
Bridgewater finished 29 of 38 for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
“You can’t live in misery or live in a loss,” Bridgewater said. “We are the type of team that has mature guys and I am pretty sure our guys are switching their focus to South Florida. One loss doesn’t determine the whole season.”
Grambling won’t play Saturday
JACKSON, Miss. – Grambling’s proud program descended into further chaos when the school canceled Saturday’s game against Jackson State after disgruntled players refused to travel to Jackson.
Jackson State officials announced the cancellation Friday night. Athletic department spokesman Wesley Peterson told The Associated Press that Grambling officials contacted Jackson State to inform them of the decision.
Grambling spokesman Will Sutton said the Southwestern Athletic Conference has labeled the game as a “no contest” and that university officials would have no further comment.
Grambling officials tried to rectify a sour situation between players and administration.
SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp said according to conference rules, Grambling will forfeit and the school will be fined.
• Eastern Michigan receiver Demarius Reed, 20, was found shot to death at his off-campus apartment in what Ypsilanti police believe was a robbery.
• The NCAA has cleared Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who was suspended for two games, to return for Saturday’s Arkansas game. Clinton-Dix had been suspended indefinitely for accepting a short-term loan of less than $500 from assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris, possibly violating NCAA rules about student-athletes receiving extra benefits.