J. J. Worton of UCF Has Highlight Reel Day in Win Over Temple

ucfknightsfootballSaturday’s UCF Knights 39-36 win over the Temple Owls was one of the best games of the season, if not any season. Since it was a 12:00 start, most college football fans likely did not see it. Might we suggest if you have some down time this week, go to ESPN3 and watch this game. Pay particular attention to #9 in white. UCF wide receiver J. J. Worton played one of those games that he will be talking to his grandkids about.

UCF could have sen their hopes of going to one of college football’s biggest bowls in January take a severe kick to groin had they lost to the 1-8 Owls. And by all rights, they probably should have lost this game. The Owls looked like they wanted it more. They came ready to play and the Knights looked like a team playing on the road against a team they should crush in front of a sparse crowd in a huge stadium. It is understandable they had a difficult time taking this team seriously, especially coming off a huge home win against the Houston Cougars the week before. That win put the Knights in the position of controlling their own fate with four games to play. But luckily there was on Knight who came to play and that was Worton. Not that he was the only one, Blake Bortles had a great game throwing the ball and Storm Johnson and William Stanback ran the ball well. Rannell Hall also had a big day catching the football to. But Worton saved the day on Saturday.

Worton had 10 catches for 179 yards, and it seemed like every one of them was huge. He kept drives alive on third downs with circus catches all day long. He made one catch late in the second quarter on a third an long play that was so good the ref on the field called it incomplete. One could hardly blame him as Worton’s whole body was hovering over the white paint of the sidelines except for his big toe which was still on the green grass ans he snatched the Bortes pass out of the air cleanly. The replay officials overturned the call and kept the drive alive. UCF converted on a last second field goal to take a 22-21 lead into the locker room at the half.

ESPN had something called the “Good Hands Play of the Day” award that they announced late in the fourth quarter. They knew who to give it to, the only thing they had trouble with was picking which play. Was it the twisting catch on the sideline at the five yard line? Was it the aforementioned catch? Was it one of his two touchdown receptions? Had they waited until the game was over, they would have had no problem.

The Knights looked to have blown this game when they allowed Temple to take the lead 36-29 with 2:00 to play. At best, they might be able to get the game into overtime. But there was now way to win this thing in regulation…or so we thought. That was until Worton made the catch of the year. If UCF goes on to win a Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl this season, this play will forever be known as “The Catch” in Orlando, Florida.

Bortles, who made some Houdini-like escapes on several of these plays, got away from the pass rush again and fired a long strike in to back of the end zone as he was about to be leveled by a Temple defender. As the ball sailed way, it looked like there would be no way Worton could catch up with it. But, he sprinted to the spot where the ball was headed, the back left corner of the end zone. He leaped and stretched his right hand out like a left-handed outfielder trying to rob a hitter of extra bases, and snatched ball ball one-handed as he fell down just before hitting the white paint again. There was no bobble. There was no need for instant replay to look at the play. There was only jaws dropping all over the stadium and throughout all of Central Florida.

People who do not watch sports often cannot understand why those of us who do spend our precious off-time watching other people play a game. I get that. At times it seems silly, especially when you have so many people like Jerry Sandusky, Alex Rodriguez, Lance Armstrong, Jonathan Martin, Aaron Hernandez, Jameis Winston, and Jovan Belcher making the news for all the wrong reasons.

But then every once in a while you a performance from a guy who none of the “big time schools” were looking at coming out of high school like Worton, go to a school like UCF and play his butt off. He leads his team to a possible BCS Bowl bid in January where a lot of the schools who passed on him will be wishing they were. He’s not blessed with great athletic speed or size but he makes the plays when given the chance. That’s what makes watching sports fun for those of us who like to do it.

Jim Folsom is a regualr contributor at http://www.bettingsports.com