GLENDALE, Ariz. - Baylor's first BCS bowl appearance was a big-time bust.
The sixth-ranked Bears, a 17-point favorite in the Fiesta Bowl at kickoff, never led against No. 15 Central Florida in a stinging 52-42 loss Wednesday night.
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This was supposed to be the most one-sided of all the BCS bowls this year, but UCF, not Baylor, had the unstoppable offense. The Bears did roll up 550 yards, but UCF had 556 and fewer mistakes.
The Knights (12-1) scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Baylor (11-2) tied it at 28 with 10:18 left in the third quarter, but UCF outscored the Bears 24-14 from there in the highest-scoring Fiesta Bowl and second-highest BCS bowl ever.
The Bears were penalized 17 times for 135 yards to UCF's four for 40 yards.
Bryce Petty completed 30 of 46 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns with one costly interception for Baylor. The Bears' Lache Seastruck rushed for 117 yards on 17 carries.
UCF's Blake Bortles was 20 of 31 for 301 yards and three TDs with two interceptions. He ran for a career-high 93 yards on just eight carries, including a touchdown. Storm Johnson gained 124 yards in 20 attempts for the Knights.
Petty's 50-yard touchdown pass to Jay Lee set up the quarterback's 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 28-26 with 10:18 to play, then Petty ran up the middle for the 2-point conversion that tied it.
But as was the case all night, the Big 12 champion Bears couldn't hold up on defense. A third-down pass interference penalty on Ahmad Dixon kept the UCF drive going, and on the play, Bortles threw 38 yards to Jeff Godfrey to the Baylor 16. On third-and-4, Bortles threw 10 yards to Breshad Perriman for the touchdown to put the Knights back on top, 35-28.
Bortles' 15-yard run made it 42-28, but there was still 13:37 left. The Bears got a 9-yard touchdown run from Glasco Martin to cut it to 42-35 less than 2 minutes later.
Again, though, the Bears couldn't stop UCF.
Johnson's 40-yard touchdown run made it a two-TD game again with 10:26 to go, then Shawn Moffitt's 44-yard field goal put the Knights up 52-35 with 4:44 to go. Petty's 9-yard TD pass to Clay Fuller with under 2 minutes left cut it to 52-42, then UCF recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.
The Knights had turnovers on three consecutive plays in the second quarter but Baylor only got six points out of them. Eddie Lackey intercepted Bortles' pass at the UCF 32 and, two plays later, Petty threw 30 yards to Levi Norwood for a touchdown, but a bobbled snap on the extra point led to a failed conversion and Central Florida still led 14-13.
Bortles' 50-yard touchdown pass to Rannell Hall, with Reese blocking two would-be tacklers on the way, made it 21-13.
Petty's 13-yard run cut it to 21-20 with 2:55 left in the half, but Bortles found Hall, with Reese again throwing the key block, on a 34-yard touchdown play and UCF led at the half 28-20.