ORLANDO — Moise Plancher got a start Saturday night and got the first touchdown in USF's 31-24 overtime win at Central Florida, but the night was special because it came in a game in which UCF paid tribute to the cousin he lost this spring.
Ereck Plancher, a redshirt freshman receiver at UCF last season, collapsed and died during a team workout in March, and the Knights honored him with a pregame moment of silence.
"I was just proud for the Plancher on the back of my jersey, representing my cousin," said Moise Plancher, who rolled back his left sleeve to reveal a tattoo on his forearm, showing Ereck's face and his name. He puts tape around his wrists before each game with his cousin's initials.
He said the impact of his cousin's death was clear Friday when USF had a walkthrough at Bright House Networks Field and he saw his cousin's initials on the field behind the south end zone.
"It meant a lot to me," Plancher said. "When we came to look at the field, it was pretty hard. I had a million things running through my mind. I tried to stay focused on my family telling me to stay strong. I had a lot of support from my family and friends."
PENALIZED: USF's defense kept UCF in check, but the Knights hurt themselves with penalties.
The biggest flag came in the second quarter as UCF's Joe Burnett intercepted a Matt Grothe pass and raced down the sideline for what would have been a touchdown and a 14-10 lead.
Instead, a block in the back put UCF near midfield, and two plays later a penalty for offensive pass interference backed the Knights into second and 27. UCF wound up punting, losing an opportunity to take control.
Other flags were more senseless. Reggie Weams barreled into returner Marcus Edwards before a punt got to him, drawing a 15-yard flag. USF's next drive ended with a blocked field goal by Burnett, but the Knights lost 15 yards after the whistle as Travis Timmons pushed holder Grant Gregory from behind — into an official, no less — for another 15-yard penalty.
At one point late in the third quarter, UCF had 97 yards of offense and 104 yards of penalties.
BIG CHANGE: In the opener against Tennessee-Martin, Edwards set a USF record with 124 yards in punt returns, all in the first half. Against UCF, Edwards wasn't as effective, with three fair catches and one return for a 1-yard loss in the opening half. After getting hit hard by Weams in the third quarter, Edwards had a catch on the following drive but was replaced on punt returns by WR Patrick Richardson.
THIS AND THAT: Countryside grad Lucas Darr, who missed the opener with a sprained ankle, started on special teams for the Bulls. … Game captains were CB Tyller Roberts of Eatonville, TE Cedric Hill, C Jake Griffin (Armwood) and S Danny Verpaele. … Roberts wasn't the only Orlando-area player for the Bulls. Sophomore Jake Sims (Winter Park) played right tackle in the second half, and DT Marvin Peoples (Apopka) played on special teams.
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] and (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.