8:00 PM ET, November 11, 2006
Liberty Bowl, MEMPHIS, TN
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Quarterback Steven Moffett and kicker Michael Torres enjoyed a night of redemption while their Central Florida teammates relished the end of a 4-game losing streak.
Moffett threw for a 319 yards and two touchdowns and Torres kicked a trio of second-half field goals to lead Central Florida to a 26-24 victory over Memphis on Saturday.
Torres kicked the game-winning 18-yard field goal with just over three minutes remaining as the Golden Knights (3-7, 2-4 Conference USA) won for the first time since defeating Marshall 23-22 on Oct. 4. Torres kicked a 22-yarder with seven seconds left to win that game.
This game-winner was even shorter.
"The thought that went through my head was Marshall," the senior kicker said. "I'd done it before, came in with the same attitude and just stroked it. It went right down the pipe."
Memphis (1-9, 0-6) moved down the field after Torres' kick gave the Golden Knights the lead. But the drive stalled at the Central Florida 35 as Memphis failed to convert a fourth-and-7 situation, sending the Tigers to their eighth straight loss.
"We did not deserve to win this game," Memphis coach Tommy West said. "Until we learn to play without making mistakes, and without doing the things that people do to lose, we are not going to win."
Memphis remains in the East Division cellar and is the only team winless in Conference USA play.
Moffett, a senior who in recent weeks had been relegated to backup behind Kyle Israel, played the entire game and gained confidence after completing his first nine passes, leading to Central Florida's early 14-0 lead. His 319 yards were just short of his career-high of 322 against Akron in 2004.
"It goes to show when stuff like this happens to you, and things aren't going right, you need to keep your head in the game because you never know when youyr'e chance is going to come again," said Moffett, who learned mid-week he was starting.
"(Moffett) did some good things," Central Florida coach George O'Leary said. "I started him because I think he practiced better the past week and a half. I haven't changed. Whoever practices best is going to play."
Prior to his game-winning kick, Torres had booted field goals of 36 and 33 yards in the second half to break a 17-17 tie at the half. Torres' four field goals tied a Central Florida record.
But there were other times this year against South Florida and Southern Mississippi where short misses by Torres hurt the team.
"I think I kind of owed the the team for those first few games," Torres said. "...This was not bailing them out. This is kind of what I owed them."
Memphis quarterback Martin Hankins completed 27-of-41 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
The teams were tied 17-17 at the break after Matt Reagan's career-long 40 yard field goal for Memphis seven seconds before the break. It marked the first time since the third game of the season at East Carolina that Memphis hasn't trailed at the half.
The first half was an offensive show with both quarterbacks going on long completion streaks to engineer scoring drives. At one point Hankins completed eight straight for Memphis. Moffett started the game connecting on his first nine passes for 165 yards.
The start helped Central Florida live up to its standard of scoring fast with two touchdowns on its first two possessions. Both scoring drives were under four minutes. The Golden Knights entered the game with only four of their 19 touchdown drives on the season lasting longer than four minutes.
Both marches culminated in Moffett touchdown passes -- the first from 29 yards to Walker, the other for 3 yards to Shane Smith and an early 14-0 lead for the Golden Knights.
Memphis defenders contributed to Moffett's early success with soft coverage that left Golden Knight receivers wide open. Moffett completed 12-of-17 passes in the half for 218 yards and the two touchdowns.
The Tiger offense, led by Hankins' passing, came back with a pair of touchdown passes. The first was for 24 yards to Duke Calhoun.
Memphis tied the game when Hankins connected on a screen pass to Joseph Doss who took the ball down the sideline for a 28-yard score early in the second quarter.
Both teams would add second-quarter field goals. Prior to Reagan's 40-yard boot in the closing seconds, Torres kicked a 22-yard field goal.
Despite Torres' two field goals in the second half, Memphis took the led with 10:40 remaining when Hankins and Calhoun hooked up for their second score, this one from 28 yards, giving Memphis a 24-23 lead. That set the stage for Torres' winning field goal.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-14||5-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||2-4|
|TD||11:34||MIKE WALKER 29 YD PASS FROM STEVEN MOFFETT (MICHAEL TORRES KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 74 yards.
|TD||5:32||SHANE SMITH 3 YD PASS FROM STEVEN MOFFETT (MICHAEL TORRES KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 82 yards.
|TD||3:38||DUKE CALHOUN 24 YD PASS FROM MARTIN HANKINS (MATT REAGAN KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 32 yards.
|TD||12:54||JOSEPH DOSS 28 YD PASS FROM MARTIN HANKINS (MATT REAGAN KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 94 yards.
|FG||7:54||MICHAEL TORRES 22 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 68 yards.
|FG||0:07||MATT REAGAN 40 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 57 yards.
|FG||12:20||MICHAEL TORRES 36 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 16 yards.
|FG||14:12||MICHAEL TORRES 33 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||10:40||DUKE CALHOUN 28 YD PASS FROM MARTIN HANKINS (MATT REAGAN KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 60 yards.
|FG||3:01||MICHAEL TORRES 18 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 71 yards.