In our eighth episode of UCF Throwback Classics, it’s the UCF Knights, then the UCF Golden Knights, versus the Bowling Green Falcons from 1998. In this game, Heisman hopeful and senior quarterback Daunte Culpepper becomes the school’s all-time passing yards leader as the UCF Golden Knights came back to defeat the Bowling Green Falcons 38-31.
The previous week, Drew Brees and the Purdue Boilermakers embarrassed the Golden Knights 35-7 in their first nationally broadcast game on ESPN. This game was regionally broadcast on Fox Sports Net and in Florida on Sunshine Network.
In the first half, Bowling Green tried to follow Purdue’s game plan on disrupting Culpepper and the Golden Knights’ rhythm and it worked. The Falcons opened the game with an onside kick that worked to perfection and drove down the field, scoring a touchdown. The Golden Knights and Falcons would trade touchdowns. UCF was stuck as a one-dimensional team as the running game was rendered ineffective. The defense also struggled as the Falcons started sophomore Ricky Schneider at quarterback for the first time instead of senior Bob Niemet. The Falcons had a 24-14 lead at halftime.
Before the game ever started, UCF scrambled to get out of Florida and to Ohio due to Hurricane Georges’ impact on Florida. The winds followed UCF as over 20mph gusts affected the game. This might have played a role in the Golden Knights’ flat first half.
The second half was a different story.
Unlike in the first half, where UCF was caught flat-footed, first-year head coach Mike Kruczek was able to make some adjustments to help the Golden Knights settle down and allow Culpepper to take over. T Falcons’ defense was carved apart using a combination of deep passes and utilization of his best wide receiver, Siaha Burley. The Golden Knights defense clamped down, not allowing the Falcons to create any sustained drives, and put a big zero in the points column.
The Golden Knights would score three touchdowns on their first three offensive drives to take a 35-24 lead. The Golden Knights would take advantage of recovering a fumbled snap deep in Falcon territory by adding a field goal to extend the lead to 38-24 late in the fourth quarter. The Falcons would reinsert their normal starter Niemet due to his stronger arm, but time was short. He would lead Bowling Green to score one more time late in the game to pull it to 38-31, but UCF receiver Charles Lee recovered the onside kick and they ran the clock out for the win.
Daunte Culpepper ended up going 23-31 for 320 yards and four touchdowns. He finished with 3,960 yards and 28 touchdowns. Culpepper was sixth in the Heisman voting and was drafted 11th overall in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings. He was the first UCF player selected in the first round and would be the only one until Blake Bortles was drafted third in 2014.
Aside from Culpepper, Burley, and Charles Lee, there were a couple of other players who would play in the NFL such as lineman Cornell Green. Bowling Green had DJ Durkin, who later became head coach of Maryland.
The Golden Knights would end up coming back to Ohio the next week as they would defeat Toledo.
Unfortunately, the second quarter is missing from the video below. Old videos are like old cars. They can be beaten up and look ugly, but they still run. At least enjoy the first, third, and fourth quarters of the game.
My YouTube channel can be reached here.