No. 18 UCF Knights Falls Short Against Division Foe Cincinnati 27-24
By Daniel Forcella, UCF Knights // October 5, 2019
ABOVE VIDEO: Coach Josh Heupel after loss to Cincinnati.
CINCINNATI, OHIO (UCF Knights) – The offense never really got going on the road and the UCF football team couldn’t recover, as the 18th-ranked Knights fell to Cincinnati by a score of 27-24 Friday night at Nippert Stadium.
“Obviously disappointed in the result,” UCF head coach Josh Heupel said after the game. “But I am proud of the way the guys competed. They never gave up. They competed fiercely until the end, but obviously we didn’t do enough to win the football game today.”
The lowest combined scoring quarter in a UCF game this season had both defenses putting up valiant efforts. A 24-yard field goal from Dylan Barnas gave the Knights (4-2, 1-1) a 3-0 lead over the Bearcats (4-1, 1-0) after one.
“Early in the football game we had multiple opportunities in the first quarter, and to come away with three points, that can, and it did come back to haunt us,” Heupel said. “(There were) opportunities that were wasted and points that were there to be had, and we didn’t take advantage of them.”
A Dillon Gabriel interception in the red zone and a fumble recovered by Cincinnati in UCF’s own zone allowed the Bearcats to grab a slight lead in the first half. Cincinnati made it 10-6 with 6:49 to go in the second quarter on a touchdown pass from Desmond Ridder to Trent Cloud.
After a third Barnas first-half field goal made it 10-9, Tay Gowan picked off Ridder and the Knights took advantage of the short field and grabbed a 16-10 lead before the half when Greg McCrae punched in a one-yard touchdown.
The Knights had a clear advantage on the stat sheet in the first half, totaling 263 yards to Cincinnati’s 124.
That changed early in the third quarter, as the Bearcats traveled 66 yards down the field on their first drive of the period and connected on a 26-yard field goal that brought them within three points, at 16-13.
Final from Nippert Stadium. pic.twitter.com/K6EITa0CQb
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 5, 2019
A couple of three-and-outs from the Knights allowed the Bearcats to hang in there, and then a pick-six for Ahmad Gardner put Cincinnati in front, a 20-16 lead that the Bearcats never looked back from.
They took a 27-16 lead early in the fourth quarter and kept the Knights at bay until one final push. Gabriel led a four-play, 93-yard drive that culminated in a 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown for Tre Nixon to make it 27-21.
Gabiriel then connected with Adrian Killins Jr. on the two-point conversion to pull the Knights within three points with just over three minutes to play.
UCF’s onside kick attempt went out of bounds, and on fourth-and-one, the Bearcats finally got the first down they needed to clinch the victory and send the Knights home with their second loss of the 2019 season.
The Knights outgained the Bearcats 423-to-341, but turned the ball over four times to just one miscue for Cincinnati.
Gabriel finished the night 25-of-46 for 297 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions with a fumble lost. Gabriel Davis totaled career highs of 13 catches and 170 yards, while Nate Evans added a career-high 17 tackles.
Next week’s bye couldn’t come at a better time for the Knights, who have now lost two out of their last three games for the first time since late in the 2016 season.
UCF will return to action on Oct. 19 when the Knights host ECU on Homecoming.
CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS