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UCF trounces South Dakota

A perfect first half had fans cheering for Rob Calabrese, who nailed nine straight passes before halftime. Receiver A.J. Guyton picked up 127 yards in the air.

A perfect first half had fans cheering for Rob Calabrese, who nailed nine straight passes before halftime. Receiver A.J. Guyton picked up 127 yards in the air.

Isaac Babcock

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The Knights just had one of their biggest home openers in team history, and some surprise stars are to thank for it.

On Sept. 4, the University of Central Florida football team crushed visiting South Dakota by 38-7, a margin they hadn’t seen in a home opener for nearly a decade.

The last time they’d blown out a team as badly in their first home game of the season was Sept. 28, 2002, when after a three-game road series started the season, the Knights came home and decimated Liberty by an identical margin, though the score was an even wilder 48-17.

Rob Calabrese, who as little as two weeks ago was in question to even start the game, played the best game of his career, completing flawlessly all nine passes he attempted in the first half of the game, and going on to nail 12 of 15. He would collect 176 yards in the air and 14 on the ground, at one point making his own tackle, ball in hand, after scrambling for 7 yards.

Suddenly the player whom fans had passed over as the crowd favorite to start the game was pumping his fist in the air amid a 360 degree roar from the stands.

“I knew I was in a groove,” Calabrese said after the game. “I dreamed about this.”

After two seasons as a penciled-in question mark in the Knights starting roster, Calabrese had just stamped his name in ink.

Along the way, backup quarterback Jeff Godfrey made 6-of-7 passes for 65 yards with a touchdown pass of his own.

Five different UCF players would score a touchdown against the Coyotes, with both Knights quarterbacks contributing with a TD pass each.

Wide receiver A.J. Guyton did his best to grab the spotlight, picking up 127 receiving yards and a TD of his own. Just behind him in total yards, Jonathan Davis picked up 107 yards on the ground, rumbling into the end zone for the Knights’ first score of the game.

Now the Knights are facing one of their toughest matchups of the season. Saturday, Sept. 11 they host North Carolina State. The last time the two teams met, the Knights shocked the Wolfpack with a 25-23 win to start the 2007 season.

Fired up from the big victory, the Knights went on to win the 2007 Conference USA championship and appear in the Liberty Bowl.

But it won’t be easy. The Wolfpack is coming off a big win of its own, with a 48-7 blowout over Western Carolina.