UCF Knights Beat Houston Cougars 44-29 In Game With Alternate Uniforms Dedicated To Space Program
By UCF Knights // November 2, 2019
ABOVE VIDEO: UCF Knights Beat Houston Cougars 44-29
ORLANDO, FLORIDA (UCF Knights) – The Knight defense dominated second-half action for the second straight week, as the UCF football team defeated Houston 44-29 Saturday at Spectrum Stadium amidst a celebration of the school’s history with the space program.
Donning space-themed uniforms for the third consecutive season, UCF improved to 7-2 on the season and 4-1 in American Athletic Conference play, outscoring the Cougars (3-6, 1-4) by a score of 23-6 in the second half.
After holding Temple to just 19 total yards in the second half in Philadelphia last weekend, UCF allowed just 62 yards to Houston Saturday afternoon at Spectrum Stadium, giving the Knights’ opponents just 81 second-half yards over the last two games.
“(I’m) really pleased with the win,” UCF head coach Josh Heupel said.
“I thought our kids regrouped and settled at halftime. Obviously the third quarter was huge, just in the way the game got played late in the fourth quarter. As much as anything, our kids just settled in, and defensively, played with great technique. (They) had their eyes in the right place, played assignment-sound, played with great energy.”
Trailing at halftime for just the second time this season, the Knights quickly erased the 23-21 deficit with three straight touchdowns in the third quarter, two on the ground by Bentavious Thompson.
Thompson scored from 43 yards out and two yards out, putting forth back-to-back games with multiple touchdowns. He now leads UCF with seven rushing touchdowns on the season.
“(He’s) super consistent. He does a great job of finishing his runs,” Heupel said of Thompson. “(He’s) been great with the ball in his hands. (We’ve had) some huge plays in the run game from him and his physical presence out there. He’s done a great job in pass protection too. I think that’s one of the things that maybe goes unsung with him and all the running backs at times.”
The Knights got it done through the air as well. Dillon Gabriel went 21-of-30 for 298 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. The Hawaiian passed Ryan Schneider for the most passing yards in a season by a UCF freshman.
“Obviously today, going three and out twice, we came out that next drive and I was like ‘we’ve got to put some points on the board; let’s go do it.’ Guys reacted well to it,” Gabriel said.
The UCF offense’s 21 third-quarter points wouldn’t have been enough to earn the victory, though, without that second-half performance from the defense.
The Knights, who came in ranked third in the nation with 9.0 tackles for loss per game, went off for a season-high 17 TFLs and tied the team’s season-best with five sacks.
“To me, it changes the way the game’s played on third down,” Heupel said. “Third down’s a critical down – get yourself off the field. If you create negative plays on first and second down, you’re in a third and long situation, you’re able to go after the quarterback and put them in a tough position and get yourself off the field.”
Kenny Turnier led the way with 3.5 tackles for loss, while Brendon Hayes had two sacks to increase his team lead to 6.5 sacks on the season. The defensive end also picked up a safety late in the game to seal the victory for the Knights, UCF’s first safety since 2017.
The Knights will now begin preparation for a short week, as UCF returns to action on Friday, Nov. 8 at Tulsa. The Knights and the Golden Hurricane are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff on ESPN2 and FM 96.9 The Game.
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