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For the fourth
time this season, Central Florida and Florida State are going to play each
other. This time, 1pm Sunday, it will be for the inaugural South
Independent championship and a bid to the DI-AA Sweet 16.
UCF won its way into the final with a 32-14 defeat of Middle Tennessee State Saturday, and FSU did so by beating Kennesaw State 46-17.
Middle Tennessee State was never really in the semifinal against UCF, as the Golden Knights led 27-0 at halftime. MTSU mustered just two tries on the day, despite UCF being down to just 12 players at one point in time.
UCF’s Jason Ross was pleased with win, obviously, but said his team didn’t play its best.
“Overall, we played OK. We didn’t play to our full potential,” he said. “We had a bunch of stupid mental errors that we have to correct tomorrow.”
Florida State’s win over Kennesaw was a bit closer early on, but the Seminoles exploded in the second half when they started to value the territorial advantage.
“We played rugby on the right half of the field,” said Swanner. “Playing the field position game really helped ourselves.”
UCF leads the season series against FSU 2-1, having won the first and last meetings. The most recent win was lopsided, 40-13, in the Golden Knights favor.
That was a wakeup call for Florida State.
“Definitely, don’t have the distractions we had last time against UCF. It was on St. Patrick’s Day and we are college kids, and unfortunately we were a little bit distracted,” admitted FSU coach Kirk Swanner.
“This time we’ll be a little bit more focused. Definitely the chemistry was there (against Kennesaw). Made some adjustments from the UCF match, so things are looking a lot better this time around.”
Sunday’s winner moves to the Sweet 16, and the loser will be left hoping for an at-large berth.