UCF used a Hail Mary pass from Justin Holman to Breshad Perriman to cover 51 yards on the final play of the game for a 32-30 victory over East Carolina on Thursday night, once again proving that college football teams have a problem defending last-gasp chances.
The pass from Holman cleared three East Carolina defenders, none of whom were in the end zone and one of whom came running across the goal line and misjudged the flight of the ball. Perriman simply ran behind the defense and caught the ball as it arrived in the end zone.
Most defenses feature two safeties in normal formations and sometimes three in nickel or dime schemes. Yet, for some reason, the Pirates didn't have anyone in the end zone to knock down the Hail Mary pass. They mostly were between the five-yard line and the goal line.
USC lost on a last-second Hail Mary pass against Arizona State on Oct. 4 when Trojans defenders also were caught out of position. The Pirates can relate.
The victory helped the Knights (9-3, 7-1 in American Athletic Conference) earn a share of the league title with Memphis (9-3, 7-1).
The Hail Mary pass capped a wild fourth quarter that featured the Pirates (8-4, 5-3) wiping out a 26-9 deficit with three touchdown passes by Shane Carden, the last of which led to a 30-26 lead with 2:17 left to play.