ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – University of Central Florida (UCF) and Austin Peay State University (APSU) had a heated match at Spectrum Stadium Saturday that featured an action-packed second half and epic offensive plays on both sides. UCF even made history in two ways: 1) Tonight’s game was the first time the Knights have scored more than 50 points in three games in a row in the team’s history; and 2) tonight marked the first time the Knights have ever scored 70 points in a game.
Within the first five minutes of the game, UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton handed off the ball to Taj McGowan who ran for four yards to get the game’s first touchdown.
With 3:26 left in the first, Austin Peay’s Tanner made a seven-yard touchdown carry at fourth and 1, tying the game 7-7. UCF, however, immediately answered: Mike Hughes rushed 90 yards for a return touchdown, bringing the score to 14-7 (UCF) at the end of the first quarter. UCF’s McGowan scored his eighth rushing touchdown of the season within the first five seconds of the second quarter, bringing the score to 21-7 UCF.
Austin Peay would not be easily defeated, though. Wide receiver Kyran Moore rushed for 74 yards on a completed pass, bringing the team to first and goal. The controversial play that followed saw a rush to the end zone, a fumble recovered by Austin Peay tight end Michael Hoover, who was then tackled. The ball fell right on the line. After a review and a challenge, the play was counted for Austin Peay as a touchdown. However, UCF broke up APSU’s extra point attempt, leaving the score at 21-13, UCF.
Austin Peay’s defense closed in on UCF on the Knights’ next drive, forcing UCF to make a 20-yard field goal instead. The score was 24-13 with just under 11 minutes left in the half.
UCF’s Keith Griffin picked up a loose ball and ran it to the end zone for a touchdown, stretching the score to 31-13.
With eight minutes left in the half, Austin Peay’s Oatsvall was on the carry and slid to dodge a tackle and was knocked in the head by UCF’s Gibson’s arm. He was charged with targeting, which UCF Head Coach Scott Frost vehemently disagreed with. Frost furiously argued with the referee, profanity and all, and was thereby charged with unsportsmanlike conduct.
Oatsvall facilitated another thrilling play on Austin Peay’s next scoring drive: he managed to fire off a pass moments before being tackled, and while the pass was broken up, it was recovered by Trey Pruitt for a touchdown (31-20, UCF).
McKenzie Melton rushed the ball for two yards himself for a touchdown with two minutes left in the half (38-20, UCF).
With less than two minutes left in the half, Austin Peay’s Kyran Moore gave the Knights a dose of their own medicine with a return touchdown of his own (38-26, UCF). The last time UCF had an opponent do that was back in 2011.
UCF closed out the half with another nail-biter: Milton passed to Snelson, who made a miraculous clutch catch in the end zone, falling out of bounds. The play was initially ruled as such, but given the double coverage on Snelson and his foot landing in the end zone prior to him falling out of bounds, UCF was awarded the touchdown after a review, closing a review-riddled half with a score of 45-26.
At the start of the third quarter, UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith made a fifteen-yard touchdown catch from Melton (52-26, UCF).
With 7:49 left in the third, Austin Peay’s Kyran Moore made what could possibly be the play of the night: on a run to the end zone to catch a touchdown pass, UCF’s Antwan Collier caught what would have been an epic interception, but Moore tipped the ball out of Collier’s grip with his left hand and recovered it, securing Austin Peay’s touchdown as originally planned, closing UCF’s lead to 52-33.
After another successful touchdown pass to Snelson for a 59-33 score, Milton was 24 of 26 for 275 with three touchdown passes Saturday.
UCF’s Cordarrian Richardson got his second rushing touchdown of the season less than a minute into the fourth quarter for two yards with UCF at first and goal (66-33, UCF).
UCF’s defense remained stingy for the remainder of the game while the offense further expanded the lead to a 73-33 final score.
Mellissa Thomas is Florida National News Editor. | firstname.lastname@example.org