No. 22 UCF Knights Rout UConn 56-21 In Conference Opener, Gabriel Shines, Mack Returns
By Dan Forcella, UCF Knights // September 29, 2019
UP Next: @ Cincinnati on Friday, Kickoff set for 8 p.m.
ABOVE VIDEO: Watch all the highlights from UCF’s 56-21 win over UConn as the Knights improve to 4-1 on the season and open up American Athletic Conference play 1-0.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA (UCF Knights) – Following its first regular season loss in over two seasons, the UCF football team bounced back in a big way Saturday night, scoring 56 unanswered points to start the game and ultimately defeating visiting UConn 56-21 in front of 44,164 at Spectrum Stadium.
The UCF defense, which came into the game having forced just three turnovers in its first four games, came away with four on Saturday, the most since forcing five at ECU on Oct. 20, 2018.
And it was the Knights’ (4-1, 1-0) defense that made the first move, as Antwan Collier picked off Jack Zergiotis on the Huskies’ (1-3, 0-1) third play from scrimmage.
Dillon Gabriel hit Otis Anderson on a 25-yard strike on UCF’s first offensive play, before Greg McCrae rushed twice, the second into the end zone, and gave the Knights a 7-0 lead they did not look back from.
UCF got three of its four turnovers in the first quarter, which led to a 28-0 score at the end of one period.
Gabriel connected with Gabriel Davis on a 73-yard touchdown and Adrian Killins Jr. exploded for a 75-yard touchdown run up the middle to help the UCFast offense keep pace with the defense.
Nevelle Clarke put more points on the board for the defense, though, picking off quarterback Steven Krajewski and returning it 48 yards for his first career pick six.
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) September 29, 2019
“(It was) huge,” UCF head coach Josh Heupel said of the early turnovers. “Especially after the week before where you end up on the wrong side of it. It’s been a point of emphasis. We did a good job, obviously, making some big plays. (We) got an interception, got a fumble, got after the quarterback. (There were) a lot of positives.”
To start the second quarter, Gabriel found Davis again, this time a 16-yard score, and eventually did the same three minutes later, giving the Knights a 42-0 lead with still 10 minutes to go before halftime.
The duo, who both sat the entire second half, connected on five completions for 119 yards and three touchdowns, with the Gabriel adding six addition completions and finishing with 281 passing yards.
“We expect to go out and play at a championship level,” Heupel said. “I was pleased that we played the way we did in all three phases early in the football game.”
After the break, Darriel Mack Jr. saw his first action of the season. Last year’s American Athletic Conference Championship Most Outstanding Player suffered an injury prior to preseason camp that has sidelined him for the first four games of the year.
Mack went 9-of-13 for 97 yards and one touchdown, a 21-yard pass to Marlon Williams. He also ran for 27 yards on six carries. His final scoring drive, which put UCF up 56-0, ended with a two-yard Bentavious Thompson touchdown.
In all, the Knights finished with 607 yards of offense, 56 points and another win for the 2019 season. UCF is now 4-1 and will head up to Cincinnati next week to take on the Bearcats Friday night at Nippert Stadium.
“In this game you’re only as good as your next one,” Heupel said. “(The) players can enjoy this one tonight, (but) they’re back in the building tomorrow. It’s a short week, you got to forget it real quick. The coaching staff will watch it, probably tonight a little bit and early tomorrow morning. We have to move on to a really good opponent. That’ll be a big game.”
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