ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The UCF Knights (4-2, 1-1 AAC) returned rested and energized from their bye week as they faced the East Carolina University Pirates (3-3, 0-2 AAC) at Spectrum Stadium Saturday.
The Pirates arrived in Orlando with plans to prevent the Knights’ potential two-game winning streak after their last win, but UCF quickly reigned over the Pirates at the start of the first quarter. D. Gabriel completed 11 of 14 passes with a total of 191 yards and a total of 250 yards scoring on their first three drives within five minutes per drive with the speed of D. Gabriel, G.McCrae, and B. Thompson giving the Knights a 21-0 lead.
In the beginning second quarter, Pirates punter J Verity decreased the Knights’ lead to 21-3 following a 25-yard field goal. Knights wide receiver G. Davis completed passes from both Mack and Gabriel, earning them 14 points with less than nine minutes remaining in the half. As the clock ran out, Verity completed a 40-yard field goal for ECU, finishing the half with a score of 35-6.
ECU approached the second half with plans to decrease the Knights’ lead.
The Knights lost possession of the ball at the one-yard line. ECU’s J Hatfield picked up the block and gave D. Mauney the opportunity for ECU’s first touchdown. ECU attempted a comeback, sacking Gabriel’s pass at picking up a second touchdown by quarterback H. Ahlers. Gabriel responded with a 53-yard run pass to T. Nixon for a final touchdown in the game. UCF defensively maintained its lead throughout the fourth quarter, not allowing ECU to make any further progress toward a comeback. Despite being outscored by the Pirates 22-6 in the second half, the Knights finished their Homecoming game with a 41-28 win over the Pirates.
ECU head coach Mike Houston reflected on the team’s performance. “I’m proud how the team played during the second half…the thing is we need to continue to improve our red zone execution, our execution down there when you get close to the end-zone, because we left some points out there on the field.”
Despite the Knights’ win, head coach Josh Heupel wasn’t impressed. “The second half, we didn’t play the way we’re capable of offensively.”
Sara-Beth Colon Jeffrey is the Education & Tech Associate Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org