A blowout win that was supposed to be a loss gave the Knights enough momentum Friday that it would take a hurricane to stop them. That’s exactly what they got.
East Carolina was supposed to beat UCF by a field goal. Look at the offensive yardage totals and you might think that’s just what happened. Look at the scoreboard and instead it’s the Knights by three touchdowns in a shocker upset.
With that 47-29 win, the Knights (3-2, 1-1) have their first winning streak since Dec. 4 of 2014.
It took most of the game for the Knights to pull away in the Pirates’ home port, but they cut the mooring lines when they used only 53 seconds of clock time to rip off a 56-yard drive and put themselves up 30-21 early in the fourth quarter. From there, the sailing only got smoother.
The Knights managed to score on offense, special teams and defense in a three-pronged effort Knights fans haven’t seen since the height of UCF’s 2013 BCS Bowl championship season.
It took until the second quarter, but once the Knights started scoring, they were off to the races. On the kickoff after ECU made the first score of the game with 11:33 left in the second quarter, UCF returner Adrian Killins raced back 100 yards to tie a Knights record. A few minutes later after a 70-yard Caleb Houston punt pinned ECU to their 2-yard line, the Knights defense sank the Pirates in their own end zone for a safety. The offense got in on the fun less than a minute later when Dontravious Wilson scampered 35 yards into the end zone to punctuate the Knights’ third score in less than 8 minutes.
That spree of scoring kept coming when the Knights, after their defense opened the third quarter by sacking ECU twice in a row, thanks to Mark Rucker and Shaquem Griffin, then shoving the Pirates backward a third time when Rucker tackled running back Anthony Scott in the backfield. After the punt only sailed 32 yards, UCF needed just two plays to find the end zone again. Quarterback Justin Holman and receiver Jordan Franks almost did it in one, connecting for 33 yards to the ECU 2-yard line.
Holman, back at the helm after injuring a hamstring in a blowout loss to Michigan, lit up the field for 156 yards, though he only completed 11 of 29 attempts. The Knights’ running corps did most of the yardage work, picking up 217 on the ground with Wilson tallying 74 of those.
In total the Pirates burned the Knights in first downs — 30 to 16 — and in yardage — 521 to 373 — but managed to lose the game anyway, giving up three interceptions, one for a touchdown, and two lost fumbles. The Pirates scored just three times on seven trips to the red zone, while the Knights executed on all of theirs. The Knights’ kickoff returners averaged double the yards of the Pirates, giving UCF better field position.
The dominating win, with the Knights coming up big three-ways on the field, sets them up with needed momentum going into their second American Athletic Conference game against Tulane. The Green Wave is fresh off two narrow wins, including against a 1-4 UMass team and a 2-3 Louisiana Lafayette team that had played almost exclusively FCS teams.
But that game will now be a month away after Hurricane Matthew forced a postponement of the game as the Category 4 tropical cyclone headed toward Central Florida. The game is now set for Nov. 5, when both teams have a bye week.
Winter Park football
A rare single-digit win for the Wildcats last Friday propelled them to 4-2 on their season of never-ending away games.
That 7-0 edging of Timber Creek was a defensive slugfest from the outset, with the Wildcats’ passing corps held to just 46 yards in the air and the usually potent run game bogged down with just 87 yards.
Thankfully for Winter Park, Jonathan Griffin-Heard was on the field on defense, as he snagged an interception in the second quarter for the Wildcats’ only trip into the end zone. He would grab two interceptions on the night, totaling 35 yards on returns, eclipsing any offensive player on receiving.
On defense Cullen Honohan also shined, pulling down 12 tackles and two for loss of yards. John Coffee collected a 9-yard sack.
The Wildcats take a bye week off this week before facing Orlando University (0-6) in a rare down year. The Cougars have suffered losing margins of more than 20 points four times this season.
After four disappointingly lopsided losses to start the season, the Eagles left the field Friday night having made it five. Against an unknown West Port team whose only previous win was against perennially hapless but recently resurgent Lake Howell, the Eagles had their best shot.
The Eagles scored first. They scored early. Then they never scored again. After taking a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, the Eagles let the Wolf Pack (2-2) score five times unanswered for what was ultimately a 29-6 loss. That blowout is also the closest margin the Eagles (0-5) have seen all season.
Coming up, the Eagles were set to face the only other team West Port had beaten this season. Lake Howell has found its way to win after win in a run so rare that it hasn’t happened since some of the team’s players were born. The Silver Hawks are 4-1, fresh off a 29-19 takedown of Lake Minneola.
That game, which was scheduled for Friday, has been postponed due to the hurricane.