It’s time for the 2022 Black & Gold Banneret Awards!
Each year we pass out a bunch of awards honoring the best athletes, coaches, teams, and moments of the previous UCF Knights athletic year. Our staff votes, and so do you, the fans.
Here’s how it works: We, the staff, put together our nominees for each award. You can listen to our nominations podcast episode here. Over the next couple of weeks, we will open fan voting for each award. Each staff member gets one vote, and the winner of the fan vote will get one vote. If there is a tie, the fan vote will be the tiebreaker. We will announce the winners in two weeks.
Our 2022 Black & Gold Banneret Awards continue with a big one: the Moment of the Year. Here are your nominees:
Ryan O’Keefe pays tribute to Otis Anderson on his Gasparilla Bowl TD catch
Up 19-17 late in the fourth quarter of the Gasparilla Bowl, Mikey Keene took a deep shot to Ryan O’Keefe, who snuck inside his defender and waltzed into the end zone for a 54-yard TD catch that proved to be the score that put the Knights’ first-ever win over the Gators in the books.
But that wasn’t all. As O’Keefe trotted over the goal line, he flashed the deuces, paying tribute to the late Otis Anderson, who was killed just one month prior.
Absolutely heartbreaking news to wake up to.— ✌️ Fifth Quarter UCF ✌️ (@FifthQuarterUCF) November 30, 2021
Former UCF versatile RB/WR/PR Otis Anderson Jr. Has passed away.
You'll always be loved by Knight Nation. Rest easy Goatis. ✌️ pic.twitter.com/ytzKBsjGPs
The 54-yard TD was the same exact distance as Anderson’s iconic TD catch in the third quarter of the 2018 American Championship that ignited UCF’s comeback victory over Memphis.
Softball wins an NCAA Regional for the first time
The moment pic.twitter.com/pw3RlyfK9N— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 22, 2022
In its 21st season, UCF Softball made its greatest postseason run ever, hosting and winning a regional for the first time ever.
The Knights defeated Villanova in the opener, then beat Michigan in an 11-inning thriller, and finally had to knock off the Wolverines one final time to clinch a spot in the Super Regionals.
It was a moment two decades in the making.
For the past. The present. The future.— UCF Softball (@UCF_Softball) May 23, 2022
WE’RE GOING TO SUPERS! pic.twitter.com/0Y6cmHWu6v
Women’s Basketball celebrates the regular-season conference title at home
We made history. pic.twitter.com/pYtlT6Lpqx— UCF Women's Hoops (@UCF_WBB) February 26, 2022
Speaking of history: UCF won its fifth-ever women’s basketball conference title this season, but it had never celebrated that title at home. That changed at the end of the regular season.
Following their regular season-ending victory over Tulsa, UCF finally got the chance to do just that, cutting down the nets to celebrate their first regular-season conference title since 1999.
Nothing but net ✂️ @COACH_ABE pic.twitter.com/UWQzYUUhS3— UCF Women's Hoops (@UCF_WBB) February 26, 2022
The Knights’ season ended at the hands of UConn a couple of weeks later, but a 26-4 mark and both the regular season and tournament titles made this past season one to remember.
Softball hosts an NCAA Regional for the first time
It’s one thing to win a regional. It’s another to be selected to host one.
For the first time in history, UCF was chosen to host an NCAA Softball Regional, doing so as the 16-seed. There was plenty of drama during the selection show, but it all paid off:
UCF has come close to hosting a couple of times but has been snubbed. But this year could be the harbinger of a new future, where hosting championships becomes a common occurrence when the Knights join the Big 12.
McKenzie Milton finishes his football career at the Bounce House
Perhaps the biggest untied thread in the story of UCF sports the last five years was how McKenzie Milton’s career in black and gold ended. His last snap on the field in a UCF uniform ended with him being carted off the Raymond James Stadium turf with a catastrophic leg injury. He returned to play three seasons later, but in the garnet and gold of Florida State.
Then came the Hula Bowl College All-Star Game, which moved to Orlando after problems with Aloha Stadium, and KZ was invited to play in the Bounce House one final time:
I thought this was the most special moment of the #HulaBowl today: @McKenzieMil10 taking the Bounce House field one final time as the starting QB. #UCF pic.twitter.com/VA2D2ZaAjD— Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon) January 16, 2022
Milton started and finished the game, and although he didn’t have the most spectacular outing, it didn’t matter. For the UCF fans in attendance, it was worth it to see him on that field one more time.
That’s it from the 2022 @Hula_Bowl. @McKenzieMil10 gets one final ovation from the fans in attendance here at the Bounce House. #UCF pic.twitter.com/cvsgCdqfYN— Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon) January 15, 2022
After the game, Milton stayed on the field and literally shut the place down, signing autographs and taking photos with the fans in attendance:
The GOAT is still out here signing everything he can for the #UCF fans in attendance. pic.twitter.com/oDH66jntH7— Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon) January 15, 2022
Following the NFL Draft, Milton announced his playing days would be coming to an end, as he decided to focus on his business career. So this moment was the last time we got to see arguably UCF’s greatest player on his home field.
Not every fairy tale has the perfect ending. But sometimes you get the right ending.
What was the Moment of the Year in UCF sports for 2021-2022?
This poll is closed
Ryan O’Keefe honors Otis Anderson at Gasparilla Bowl
Softball reaches the Super Regionals
Women’s Hoops celebrates AAC championship at home
Softball hosts the NCAA Regionals
KZ wraps his career at the Bounce House