1:00 PM ET, November 28, 2003
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Ben Roethlisberger completed 24 of 29 passes for five touchdowns and 327 yards, leading No. 15 Miami of Ohio to its 11th straight victory and a conference scoring record with a 56-21 beating of Central Florida on Friday.
Miami (11-1, 8-0 Mid-American) last won this many consecutive games in 1972-73, and posted its first undefeated conference season since 1977. The last team to win all of its MAC games was Marshall in 1999.
Miami's 504 points broke the MAC's single-season scoring mark of 495, set by Toledo last year.
The RedHawks play for the conference title on Dec. 4 against the winner of Saturday's game between Toledo and No. 22 Bowling Green. Miami also has accepted a bid to the GMAC Bowl on Dec. 18, in Mobile, Ala.
UCF (3-9, 2-6) finished with its worst record since 1984, which also was the last time the Golden Knights fired a coach in midseason. Mike Kruczek was replaced by interim coach Alan Gooch on Nov. 10.
In addition, the Knights had eight players suspended this season.
Roethlisberger became the fifth quarterback in MAC history to surpass 10,000 career passing yards. He reached the mark on a 35-yard scoring pass to Martin Nance with 31 seconds remaining before halftime, giving the RedHawks a 35-0 lead.
Nance caught nine passes for 161 yards.
Roethlisberger opened the game with 14 straight completions, a streak ending only when Michael Larkin dropped a pass early in the second quarter. In the first half, Roethlisberger had 300 yards on 23-for-28 passing.
Roethlisberger only pass in the second half was a 27-yard touchdown to Larkin that put Miami up 42-0. Roethlisberger and Larkin also had a 3-yard TD connection on the opening play of the second quarter.
Larkin had five receptions for 80 yards.
Miami took a 49-0 lead midway through the third quarter on Cal Murray's 18-yard scoring run.
There was a scary moment midway through the second quarter when UCF linebacker Antoine Poe was taken off the field in an ambulance after injuring his spinal cord. Poe was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center and had some movement in his limbs.
"He is going to be in the hospital for a bit," Gooch said after the game.
It was apparent from the game's opening drive Miami would have no difficulty dispatching the hapless Knights. Roethlisberger drove Miami 75 yards in eight plays to open the game, capped by an 11-yard TD bullet to R.J. Corbin.
After Miami's defense forced a three-and-out, Roethlisberger capped off a 50-yard drive by hitting Ryne Robinson in the back of the end zone from 11 yards out.
The RedHawks defense put the game away three plays later, when John Busing intercepted Steven Moffett's pass and returned it 24 yards for a 21-0 lead with 6:06 left in the opening quarter.
UCF was outscored in the first quarter 119-19 this season.
Moffett was benched after that possession, but returned in the second half to throw a pair of touchdowns. His 30-yard scoring pass to Darcy Johnson late in the third quarter prevented the shutout, and he added a 5-yard TD pass to Luther Huggins with 9:33 left to play.
Moffett was 7-of-11 for 63 yards.
Jon Rivera completed 16 of 36 attempts for 292 yards, and his 13-yard pass to Da'Bar Fluellen with 27 seconds to go capped off the game's scoring .
Miami's final score came on Josh Betts' 1-yard TD dive with 3:50 remaining.