FLORIDA CITRUS BOWL - HOME OF THE KNIGHTS FOR 28 SEASONS
On Sept. 29, 1979, the Florida Citrus Bowl, known back then to the Orlando community as the Tangerine Bowl, opened its doors for a hometown, start-up football program guided by Don Jonas. The Knights called the crown jewel of the Orlando Centroplex home until the 2007 season when Bright House Networks Stadium was erected on the UCF campus. Jonas was the first of seven men that led the Knights onto the field at the Citrus Bowl. Current head coach George O’Leary was the last. The relationship witnessed more than 100 Knight victories came to an end when the Black and Gold ran through the Citrus Bowl tunnel one last time on Nov. 25, 2006, against UAB. The Citrus Bowl saw the Knights’ football program rise through the division ranks of the NCAA, starting as a Division III member in 1979, to making the move to Division II in time for the 1982 season, then on to Football Championship Division status in 1990 before finally emerging at the top level as a Football Bowl Subdivision member in 1997. The Knights were victorious in their inaugural game at the stadium, defeating Fort Benning 7-6 in front of 14,138 fans. Quarterback Mike Cullison’s touchdown pass to Bobby Joe Plain on a fourth-and-goal was the first Knight score in the venue and proved to be the diﬀerence in the game. UCF fans would go on to set a Division III record as an average of 11,420 fans attended the Knights’ four home games that season. During UCF’s 28-year stretch when it called the Citrus Bowl home, the stadium was the platform for some great UCF moments. The final home game vs. UAB in 2006 served as the final opportunity to add to that long, memorable list, and the Knights did not disappoint. Quarterback Kyle Israel found Mike Walker twice in the first quarter for a pair of touchdowns and the Black and Gold did not look back, defeating the Blazers 31-22. The crowd of 23,755 broke the 200,000 mark for the first time in school history, as the Knights saw a then-school record 220,980 fans flock through the gates in 2006. UCF completed its tenure at the Florida Citrus Bowl with a 112-59-1 record. The Knights outscored their opponents 5,136-3,496 in 172 games with the 5,000th point coming on a Michael Torres extra point against Villanova Sept. 2, 2006.
BY THE NUMBERS AT THE CITRUS BOWL
Record number of touchdown passes by a Knight. Darin Slack achieved the feat during a 52-14 trouncing of West Georgia in 1987.
Number of 300-yard passing games Daunte Culpepper had during his illustrious career with UCF. Also the jersey number worn by the first-round NFL draft pick, who had a total of 15 300-yard passing games during his career as a Knight.
Most consecutive home wins by UCF. The streak started on Nov. 2, 1996, with a 42-15 victory over Illinois State on Homecoming.
Largest margin overcome by the Knights in a victory. UCF fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter, but rallied for a 28-24 win over Illinois State on Oct. 20, 1984.
Tackles recorded by Bill Giovanetti in the 1979 season-finale against Morehouse. The total still stands as the all-time record for single-game tackles by a Knight.
Highest number of points scored in a half by the Knights. UCF went on to defeat Akron, 57-17, on Nov. 3, 2001.
Longest field goal by a Knight. Ed O’Brien drilled the booming kick to help UCF pull out a 39-37 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 7, 1985.
The greatest margin of victory for the Knights. UCF thumped Grand Valley State 67-3 on Halloween in 1987. The Knights’ 100th victory on their home field was a 28-17 win over Akron on Homecoming, Oct. 26, 2002.