Of course, nothing came easy that year. The game at Memphis where we needed a few miracles to pull out a W on my birthday was sweet. The Friday night comeback at Louisville is one for the ages. The goal line stand vs Houston to keep the dream alive was incredible. The game at Temple took about 5 years off our lives but somehow JJ Worton saved us all.
To add to all of these nerve wracking games, I was also living with a 1 year old baby and hormonal wife in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy. My unborn baby must have been wondering who the crazy person was screaming when Stanback made the hit or when Bortles found Godfrey in the back of the Endzone.
Finally, she had enough and needed to experience one of these barn burners for herself. Emily Espinosa was born at 1pm on Thanksgiving day. Just in time for the Black Friday War on I-4 rivalry game vs the cows of South Florida. The cows were not very good in 2013 and only had 2 wins coming into the night. It should have been a relaxing experience for daddy and his newest bundle of joy. However, if every other game that season taught us anything, it was that no victory would come easy.
Turnovers were the story of the game. The Knights would slice through the porous cows defense only to give the ball away. Storm Johnson had a few fumbles and Blake Bortles mixed in a couple interceptions. It was a recipe for disaster. The Knights held a slim 7 point lead at the half. The cows would tie the game in the 3rd quarter and even take the lead at the beginning of the 4th.
This could not be happening. Not in this season and not under these circumstances. My baby was not going to be a jinx. Finally, with just under 5 minutes to play, Bortles hit Breshad Perriman for a 52 yard TD to give the good guys the lead again. It was up to the defense to make one last stop.
Usually in hospital rooms, it’s the expectant father pacing around waiting for his baby to arrive. I had my baby in my arms but the pacing was more intense than ever. When Jordan Ozerities intercepted the Mike White pass and raced down the sideline, I was fist pumping like a maniac with one arm and carrying Emily in the other. I had to remember it was a baby I was holding and not a football so I wouldn’t spike her to the ground in celebration. Holding in my screams to not wake up my wife who had just gone through labor about 30+ hours prior wasn’t an easy task.
For many UCF fans, they will always remember where they were when we beat the cows for the first time. For me, having that moment with my daughter is something I will never forget.