ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Blake Bortles threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead Central Florida to a 38-17 victory over Ball State in the Beef ‘O' Brady's Bowl on Friday night.
Bortles threw first-half TD passes of 7 and 5 yards to Latavius Murray, who also scored on a 2-yard run to help the Knights (10-4) build a 21-point halftime lead and coast to victory in their final game as a member of Conference USA.
Bortles had a 6-yard TD run and threw for 272 yards to become UCF's first 3,000-yard passer since 2002. He also led the Knights in rushing with a career-best 80 yards on nine carries.
Ball State (9-4) was hoping to finish with at least 10 wins for the third time in school history, however its high-powered offense sputtered while being held to a season-low point total. Keith Wenning threw a 7-yard TD pass to Willie Snead early in the second quarter, but the Cardinals didn't get into end zone again until Snead scored on a 16-yard reception with 5 minutes remaining.
Bortles completed 22 of 33 passes without an interception, and his three TD passes were a career-best and tied the Beef ‘O' Brady's Bowl record. Wenning was 22 of 34 for 217 yards and two TDs for Ball State, which had a six-game winning streak snapped before an announced crowd of 21,759.