GAME RECAP: University of Central Florida Knights Top Tulane 34-31 in New Orleans
By Space Coast Daily // November 23, 2019
UCF will finish regular season next Friday
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – UCF freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for over 300 yards for the fourth time this season – and ran for a season-best 58 yards – to lead the Knights football team to a 34-31 victory over Tulane at Yulman Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“I’m proud of the way the kids competed. They competed for 60 minutes,” UCF head coach Josh Heupel said after the game. “I thought our kids were resilient all day long and handled the ups and downs really well.”
Gabriel led the UCF (8-3, 5-2) offense to a pair of first-quarter drives, one ending in a 35-yard field goal by Dylan Barnas, and the other completed by a 23-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Williams, to give the Knights the early 10-0 advantage after the first quarter.
UCF led wire-to-wire, scoring once again in the second quarter on a 44-yard touchdown run by Otis Anderson that finished off a four-play, 80-yard drive that took just one minute and 20 seconds. The Knights took a 17-7 advantage into the break.
It marked the least points given up in the first half by the Knight defense since holding ECU to just six first-half points back on Oct. 19.
The defense, which came into the game leading the nation with 9.4 tackles for loss per game, totaled another nine on Saturday.
Junior linebacker Eric Mitchell and freshman defensive end Tre’mon Morris-Brash both had two stops behind the line of scrimmage in the victory.
Tulane (6-5, 3-4) fought back though. After the Knights opened the second-half scoring on a 70-yard drive that ended with a one-yard score by Darriel Mack Jr., The Green Wave countered with a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown and a 29-yard field goal to make it a one-score game, at 24-17.
The Knights extended their lead to 14 again on a 75-yard drive that culminated with Mack getting the call. This time he rolled out to his right and found tight end Anthony Roberson in the end zone for not only his first-career touchdown but his first career catch.
Roberson’s 2-yard score gave the Knights 31-17 lead and another field goal from Barnas – this time a 26-yarder – made it 34-17 in favor of UCF in the fourth quarter.
The Green Wave score twice more in the final frame to make the score close at the final whistle, but it wasn’t enough, as the Knights left New Orleans with their eighth win of the 2019 season.
Gabriel finished 24-of-46 for 317 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 58 yards and not turning the ball over. Mack had one score on the ground and one through the air.
“Some of it was by design,” Heupel said of Gabriel’s rushing. “Some of it was just scrambles and him making plays. It was his best game of using his feet in the right way.”
It was Williams who led the receivers on Saturday, finishing with career highs of nine catches and 119 yards with one score.
UCF will finish the regular season the day after Thanksgiving, hosting South Florida Friday night at 8 p.m.