ORLANDO — For the second consecutive season, USF went on the road in Week 2 — and left the visitor's stadium with an overtime win.
Matt Grothe threw a 25-yard touchdown to Taurus Johnson on third-and-10 in the first overtime Saturday as USF beat UCF 31-24 at Bright House Networks Stadium.
"Taurus Johnson had a great, great game, and Matt hit him really well," USF coach Jim Leavitt said.
Grothe said that before the play, Johnson assured him he would catch the ball.
"Taurus made a good play to go up and get the ball," Grothe said. "He told me that if I threw the ball that he's got it, and he made a great play."
Johnson — who had six catches for 143 yards and the touchdown — said the play was called at the perfect time because the defense played into it. The catch came after a run for no gain and an incomplete pass in the corner of the end zone.
"The safeties had been playing down in the box all night," Johnson said. "(Offensive coordinator Greg) Gregory called it at the perfect time, we executed it, and it was a touchdown."
The defense stopped the Knights just short of converting a fourth-and-6 play.
Grothe said the touchdown pass — his third of the night — reminded him of USF's 26-23 win at Auburn in the second week last season. He also put the wins into perspective.
"Last year I was probably a little bit more excited," Grothe said. "I'm glad we got the win tonight, but we've still got a lot to work on."
Johnson said he was relieved afterward. "When the game was over, I was on all fours celebrating," he said.
Grothe, who threw for 346 yards, said he is glad to end the four-year series on a high note.
"I think this win (over UCF) is probably my favorite just because I can't stand them," Grothe said. "I'm glad we're done playing them."
"UCF is a very good team," Leavitt said. "It's hard to beat any team, let alone beat them four times in a row."
USF improved to 7-0 all time in overtime games.
"I think we just know how to finish games," Grothe said. "We go out there and score, and we know the defense will take care of the rest."