In our second episode of UCF Throwback Classics, it’s the UCF Knights versus the Marshall Thundering Herd from 2011. This was dubbed “The Marshall Monsoon” and is a legendary game in the history of UCF. The Knights would defeat Marshall 16-6 in a historically wet game.
Coming into this game, 2011 was an enigmatic season for the Knights. UCF opened the season 2-0, with blowout wins against FCS Charleston Southern and Boston College out of the ACC. That BC game is another story for another day. After those two wins, the Knights dropped two close games on the road at Florida International and at Brigham Young. The Knights gave up an uncharacteristic six sacks against FIU and let a halftime lead slip away in the fourth. This left a bad taste in the Knights’ mouth as it was the first time since 2008 that UCF lost two games in a row. They also had a bye week between the BYU and Marshall games. This was UCF’s first conference game since winning the 2010 Conference USA championship.
The weather going into this game was bad. In fact, bad is an understatement.
I was at this game. Wearing a poncho, I was dry from around the waist up. Below my waist, I was wet in a way I didn’t think possible. My friend Lisa, who was also at the game, would describe it to people something like this: Go completely dressed into your shower. Turn the shower on and just stand there. Oh no, this game was far, far wetter. This particular day had seven inches of rain, which was the most in Orlando in the month of October since 1950. The picture below looks pretty whited out due to the rain. It was that heavy and it never let up. Surprisingly, over 24,000 fans still showed up.
On the first play of the game, running back Brynn Harvey rips a 50-yard scamper into the redzone. UCF would score on a five-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Godfrey to AJ Guyton five plays later to open a 7-0 lead. It should be noted that this touchdown was the first passing touchdown of the year for the Knights. It was the team’s fifth game of the season. Marshall would go nowhere and punt. UCF would drive down the field again and into the Thundering Herd redzone before Ronnie Weaver fumbled the ball away. Marshall would punt again and the Knights had their third drive of at least 60 yards. Harvey opened this drive with a 23-yard run and the drive ended with a four-yard touchdown run by running back Latavius Murray to make it 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. You can see how much water is on the field as players hitting the grass created giant splashes. The screen capture below is from the end of the first quarter shows how much rain was still coming down.
As the game went into the second quarter, the weather continued to deteriorate. So did the quality of football on the field. Cato would fumble on the next drive(creating a massive amount of splashes) and then two teams would start trading off punts. UCF pinned Marshall back at their own 2 and an offensive holding call in the end zone was ruled a safety and made it 16-0 UCF. On the ensuing drive, the Knights would convert one fourth down but failed to convert on a fake field goal at the five. It was hard to tell if it was an intentional run by the holder David Bohner or not. The Thundering Herd and Knights would again start trading punts until halftime.
The two would each have two possessions and two punts each to start the second half before Marshall finally put a drive together. It stalled just outside of the 20 where the Marshall kicker Justin Haig missed a 40-yard attempt. Brynn Harvey would fumble it two plays later and it was returned for a touchdown. Marshall tried and failed to convert the two-point conversion and the score was 16-6. UCF would put another drive together in the fourth quarter that got into the redzone before Godfrey threw an interception. Marshall couldn’t do anything to capitalize. The Knights’ final drive took them once again into the redzone before the clock hit 0:00.
The game score was closer than the stats as UCF outgained Marshall 387-130. UCF had 21 first downs to Marshall’s six. It was the 3-1 turnover margin in favor of Marshall that kept the Thundering Herd in the game. Part of the buzz going into the game was the quarterback match of UCF’s Jeff Godfrey and Marshall’s Rakeem Cato. Both went to the same high school in Miami(Godfrey is a year older) and Cato broke Godfrey’s passing record. Godfrey won the battle, albeit in ugly fashion, going 13/22 for 147 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Cato finished 11/29 for 87 yards. On the ground, Brynn Harvey put on a show, running 30 times for 180 yards. The next closest player had 34 yards. The punters, David Bohner for UCF and Kase Whitehead for Marshall combined for 15 punts.
It was destiny for UCF to win this game. Ever since joining Conference USA in 2005, UCF has not lost to Marshall in football. UCF lost the first three games of the series as members of the MAC and have since gone 9-0 against the Thundering Herd. This includes some really close games in 2006 and 2009. It was against Marshall in 2005 that ended UCF’s 17 game losing streak where the fans stormed the field and tore down one of the goalposts in the then Citrus Bowl. Despite the win, the Knights continued to be unable to win close games, finishing 5-7, with the team finishing 0-6 in one-score games. This was also George O’Leary’s 100th win as a head football coach.
Don’t let the video fool you. It was beyond wet out there. In fact, midway through the first quarter, Bright House Sports Network had broadcasting issues due to the weather. Nothing material was missed.
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