The first domino to fall was Kyle Israel.
His team in front of him, lined up in victory formation, the UCF senior quarterback called for the snap and took a knee.
Popping up, he looked toward the Bright House Networks Stadium scoreboard and at the fading clock to see if that play would be enough to give the Knights a 44-25 victory and their first Conference USA championship.
His final official deed complete and the mission accomplished, he snatched off his helmet and ran toward the student section behind him with his arms raised.
A few minutes later senior tackle Josh Sitton could be seen giving junior tailback Kevin Smith a congratulatory kiss on the cheek as his teammates screamed behind him in a television interview.
Smith, by then in full beam and clad in a championship T-shirt and hat, would later jump on the back of senior Mike Merritt.
"I never had this before, baby!" he yelled as Merritt spun them around in circles.
The moment was more anarchy than order, but the emotion was easy to grasp.
The Knights finally were champions.
UCF's victory over Tulsa Saturday in the C-USA title game capped its first 10-win season since 1990 and also earns the Knights a trip to the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29 --- their second bowl appearance in three years.
"I've been involved in a lot of big games, but anytime you win a conference championship, it's big," UCF Coach George O'Leary said.
"As I told the players, right after this game you'll feel one of two emotions: great joy or great sadness. You really don't want to feel great sadness. It was great joy when I went in there It was their goal and they never lost sight of that."
For Israel, who played his high school ball at nearby University High School, Saturday's win was extra special.
"I've never experienced anything in my life that gave me the feeling that I had out there," Israel said.
After turning around their season six weeks ago here with a 44-23 win over the Golden Hurricane, the Knights knew they would easily be facing their toughest challenge of the season against Tulsa on Saturday.
And not only because the Hurricane had beaten the Knights handily in the 2005 C-USA title game, but because Tulsa itself came in riding a five-game winning streak and had one of the nation's best players in quarterback Paul Smith.
But in a game that wound up being eerily similar to the Knights' earlier win this season, UCF got big plays in all three phases to outduel the Hurricane's biggest weapon.
UCF led just 31-23 at the break, but was thoroughly picked apart by the Tulsa offense in the first 30 minutes as Smith threw for 278 yards and three scores with only one interception.
But the Knights picked things up in the second half, holding the Tulsa offense scoreless, while sacking Smith four times (six total for the game) and picking him off twice more.
"We didn't want to go down easily," said junior Joe Burnett, who had an 83-yard punt return in the first half. "We would have regretted it if we didn't make it."
Meanwhile, the Knights were able to pull away thanks to two Michael Torres field goals and a 74-yard touchdown scamper by Kevin Smith, which added the final polish to his 284-yard, four-touchdown day.
Throughout the week, Smith, who'd never won a team championship of any kind prior to Saturday, said his emotions were wrapped up in how much it all meant for his teammates.
"There's no better feeling than winning a championship," he said. "We've been working hard for this. We've been pushing each other. And when things seemed like they were getting bad, we didn't let anybody get down. It's just the feeling, you can't explain it."
The most lasting emotion for Saturday, however, might be for the people who weren't on the field, but have helped lay the foundation that the Knights now stand on.
"This is for all those guys who didn't have this feeling in 2005," senior receiver Sergio Joachim said. "This wasn't for me. It was for all those guys."
Said senior linebacker Robinson Jean: "What we've been through to get here, to get to this point. It's just unbelievable. We're champions now."
Kyle Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun