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UCF seeks first win vs. Pirates

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The Central Florida Knights have two more opportunities to avoid a winless season. The good news is both games will be played at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando. The bad news is they are underdogs in both games.

On Thursday night the 4-6 East Carolina Pirates provide the opposition. Four of those losses have come against teams either currently or formerly ranked this season. Those include Florida, Navy, Temple and BYU.

Both teams have not played in 12 days. On November 7, East Carolina gave the USF Bulls a strong effort, falling by only 22-17. Central Florida was defeated 45-30 at Tulsa on the same day.

East Carolina features running back Chris Hairston in their offense. He has rushed for 61 yards per game and scored 7 touchdowns.

Junior Blake Kemp (no relation to former NFL Quarterbacks Jack Kemp and Jeff Kemp) will start at quarterback. Kemp has thrown for 1,878 yards and 11 touchdowns. James Summers is also expected to see action.

The Knights are not only trying to avoid their first winless season since 2004, they seek to play a competitive game. They have lost 7 consecutive games by at least two touchdowns since their 16-15 loss to Furman on September 19.

UCF’s season-long struggles on both sides of the ball are well chronicled. They are next-to-last in total offense and No. 103 out of 127 in total defense.

Perhaps the bye week will do some good. Interim Coach Danny Barrett has had an extra week to work with his team. New Athletic Director Danny White (not the former Cowboy QB), can use the last two games to evaluate Barrett and the entire coaching staff.

Thursday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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