Jacksonville Sports Day

BOWLS: LSU Knocks Off No. 7 UCF to Win 2019 Fiesta Bowl

GLENDALE, Ariz. — No. 11 LSU set a school record with its fourth top-10 victory of the season, handing previously undefeated and seventh-ranked Central Florida a 40-32 defeat in the 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz.

LSU (10-3) earned its 10th win of the season for the first time since 2013, while UCF (12-1) lost for the first time in 26 games dating to Dec. 17, 2016, in the AutoNation Cure Bowl against Arkansas State.

UCF got off to a hot start and commanded a 14-3 lead thanks to sophomore running back Greg McCrae’s 25 yard touchdown run and sophomore defensive back Brandon Moore’s 93-yard interception return for a touchdown. It set the record for the longest interception return in Fiesta Bowl history and was the fourth-longest in UCF program history.

But uncharacteristic penalties proved to be a major setback for UCF. LSU capitalized by scoring on three straight drives to claim a 24-14 lead with 7:11 remaining in the second quarter.

Still, the Knights regained some momentum just before heading into the locker room at halftime. Freshman quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. connected for a 32-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Gabriel Davis, 24-21.


The Tigers trailed 14-3 midway through the first quarter.

Following a Ja’Marr Chase early in the third quarter, LSU maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half. UCF cut its deficit to the final margin with 2:24 to play but failed to get an onside kick and later threw an interception with 20 seconds to play.

Junior QB Joe Burrow was named Offensive Player of the Game following a 21-of-34 performance for 394 yards and an LSU bowl-record four touchdowns (tied Matt Flynn, 2007). Burrow’s 394 yards tied the fourth-most in LSU passing history.

Chase had a game-high six receptions for 93 yards with a touchdown, while Justin Jefferson added four catches for 87 yards with touchdown grabs of 22 and 33 yards.

Stephen Sullivan had three catches for 76 yards, and Derrick Dillon had a career-best 86 yards receiving including a 49-yard touchdown.

Running back Nick Brossette became the 13th Tiger to record 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, as the senior had 117 yards on 29 carries.

LSU senior placekicker Cole Tracy – who spent the first three seasons of his career at Division II Assumption College – made all four of his field goal attempts (24, 28, 28, 26) to set the NCAA all-division record with 97 career field goals and the LSU single-season record with 29. He also finished his career with 506 yards, good for 19th in NCAA history.

Defensively, linebacker Patrick Queen led the Tigers with nine tackles with a sack, while linebacker Devin White had eight tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble that led to Dillon’s touchdown. Safety JaCoby Stevens iced the game with a last-minute interception while collecting six tackles and a half-sack.

Defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence dominated up front, earning Defensive Player of the Game honors with five tackles – four behind the line of scrimmage – with two sacks.

Head coach Ed Orgeron won his second bowl game in three bowl appearances as LSU’s head coach, and improved to 9-0 at LSU following a loss.

LSU outgained UCF, 555-250, the Tigers’ fourth-most total offense in a bowl game. The Tigers recorded 32 first downs and held the ball for 44:31, a school record (dating to 1978).

The Knights are known for their second half comebacks, but this time, the magic came a little too late.

UCF’s only touchdown of the second half came off of a Taj McGowan 2-yard run with 2:24 remaining in the game. A two-point conversion pass from Mack to Otis Anderson gave the Knights life but fell short in the end.

UCF head coach Josh Heupel said he believes the program’s success over the last two years is just the beginning.

“[My first message to the team] about next year was handling the adversity of this football game,” Heupel said. “This program’s not accustomed to losing. No one in that locker room has lost in a couple of years. How we handle that today, tonight, in the week before we get back on campus and we first start our off-season, all of those things will speak to who what we’re going to be moving forward. I expect the kids to handle it in a great way.”

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