ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – UCF had a rollercoaster season in 2018. With losing star quarterback Mckenzie Milton to a scary injury and losing in the Fiesta Bowl to LSU, the Knights yearn to bounce back and redeem themselves this year.
With losing backup quarterback Darell Mack Jr. to a season-ending injury, UCF Knights began their season with a quarterback competition between Notre Dame graduate transfer Brandon Wimbush, redshirt freshman Quadry Jones, and incoming freshman Dillion Gabriel. The competition ended with Coach Josh Heupel naming Dillion Gabriel to start.
In the past three games, UCF blew out Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, and Stanford; and they were getting national recognition. Different analysts, including Joey Galloway, Jonathan Vilma, and others, have claimed that they don’t see the Knights making it to the College Football Playoff this year. So with a chip on their shoulders, UCF headed into this game against Pittsburgh Panthers with both momentum and a “mamba mentality.”
The Pittsburgh Panthers destroyed UCF on both sides of the ball in the first half. Running back A.J. Davis scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown on the goal line which gave his team the lead with a 7-0 score. UCF’s quarterback Dillion Gabriel struggled to move the offense and threw an interception to Pitt linebacker Phill Campbell, which gave the Panthers an extra boost. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett then threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Maurice French leading the score of 14-0.
UCF seemed determined to not give up, and running back Adrian Killins gave the team some life by rushing for a touchdown, shrinking Pitt’s lead by seven points.
In the second half, UCF came out strong and more focused as running back Otis Anderson made an incredible play by scoring on a huge punt return. Dillion Gabriel emerged resurgent, throwing two touchdown passes to wide receiver Gabe Davis, giving UCF the lead with a 31-21 score.
The Panthers, who weren’t going to let the Knights win in their home stadium, came back with a passing touchdown of their own with backup quarterback Nick Patti, cutting the lead by three points.
The fourth quarter became a “David and Goliath” battle between the teams. With Dillion Gabriel being nervous and Pitt kicker Alex Kissman missing a chance to tie the score, this game was up for grabs.
Gabriel came up huge by throwing a “dime” pass to receiver Tre Nixon for a huge first down. On 4th and 2, UCF decided to run the ball, but was quickly met by Pitt’s D-line.
Late in the fourth, Pitt’s offense failed to capitalize on a good possession that would’ve put them ahead of UCF.
On UCF’s turn, Gabriel threw a pass again to Tre Nixon on a 3rd and short, which converted into a huge first down. After reviewing the play, the refs came up with the solution that the receiver has been stopped short of the first down. By way of a field goal, UCF increased the lead with a score of 34-28.
The Panthers retaliated with a play now called the “Pitt Special” that not only gave them the lead, but also caused them to win the game.
UCF’s defeat caused a major shockwave throughout college football.
What can UCF do to bounce back? UCF has to be more focused and more aggressive on the offensive side. Gabriel needs to be more comfortable in the pocket, trust his receivers, and make smart decisions.
On the other hand, the defense needs to maintain its aggression. Both the corners and safeties must make some plays and create an immediate impact.
Like the old saying goes, “never underestimate.”
Jonathan Anderson is a Florida National News sports contributor. | email@example.com
2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: LSU Routs Purdue University 62-7
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The LSU Tigers faced the Purdue University Boilermakers in the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Monday. The Tigers made their sixth Citrus Bowl appearance, last appearing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl back in 2018 and LSU’s current coach, Brian Kelly, was ironically the head coach of the opposing team that year, Notre Dame. Needless to say LSU came into Monday’s game with considerable experience.
For Purdue’s part, their team is still working on gelling together with new head coach Brian Brohm, who admitted during the head coaches press conference Sunday that “everything is still in flux” for his team with his brother Jeff Brohm, who had coached for six seasons, leaving to coach the Louisville Cardinals.
The quick version: The LSU Tigers absolutely devoured the Purdue Boilermakers in Monday’s Citrus Bowl match. The Purdue defense was nearly non-existent in the first half, allowing a whopping 35 points before halftime. 35 points.
Want to see the carnage unfold in detail? Keep reading.
Halfway through the first quarter (7:01) LSU got on the board with a touchdown with running back John Emery Jr.’s one-yard scramble into the end zone.
With 1:06 left in the first quarter, LSU scored again with running back Noah Cain rushing the ball nine yards, making the score 14-0.
With 1:01 left in the first, on Purdue’s next possession, wide receiver Ben Van Noord fumbled the ball, which LSU safety Major Burns recovered, giving LSU the ball again–in the same spot just 20 yards away from the end zone. However, after review, the call was overturned, giving Purdue the ball back.
The Boilermakers remained scoreless, however.
LSU’s carnage continued in the second quarter. The Tiger scored their third touchdown early in the quarter (13:03) with Daniels’s 32-yard pass to tight end Mason Taylor, creating a point canyon for Purdue to have to cross, 21-0.
With 8:32, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels chose to keep the ball and nearly broke away for the touchdown rush, but was tackled
Cain finished the job for LSU, rushing in the final nine yards for the touchdown, 28-0 after the extra point.
Halfway through the second quarter, on Purdue’s possession, they were set up to punt, but instead successfully made the fourth down conversion with a first down.
With 3:11 left in the second quarter, LSU devastated Purdue. Purdue quarterback Austin Burton’s end zone pass intended for Paul Piferi got intercepted by LSU’s Camdyn Childers. LSU then made good on the pick and got their fifth touchdown in five plays for 87 yards, blowing out the score to 35-0 with 1:07 left in the first half. By the 0:14 mark, after both teams used a time out, both teams let the clock run out and headed to the locker room. The official halftime score: 35-0.
In the first half, LSU clocked 249 passing yards to Purdue’s 73 and 115 rushing yards to Purdue’s 15. LSU was five of seven on third down conversions compared to Purdue’s three of nine. LSU’s defense sacked Purdue’s quarterbacks three times for a total loss of 21 yards and made six Purdue tackles for a total loss of 28 yards.
Purdue quarterback Austin Burton was 11 of 21 on passes for 73 total yards in the first half. Running back Devin Mockabee led Purdue in rushing with eight for a total of 73 yards.
LSU showed no signs of stopping in the third quarter. On LSU’s possession, Purdue’s defense broke up a touchdown pass on the first down. However, LSU made up for it on second down with wide receiver Malik Nabers’ five-yard pass to Jayden Daniels, making the score 42-0.
At 9:17 in the third, LSU safety Greg Brooks, Jr. intercepted Purdue quarterback Michael Alaimo’s attempted touchdown pass, after which LSU players ran to the sideline to celebrate with Cheez-It mascot Ched Z and jumped on the Cheez-It bed set. As expected, they earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Interestingly, so did head coach Brian Kelly a few seconds later.
Ironically, with 5:23 left in the third, Purdue finally fed LSU a taste of their own medicine. LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier’s attempted touchdown pass intended for wide receiver Kyren Lacy was intercepted by Purdue cornerback Jamari Brown.
Purdue didn’t capitalize on their next possession, though, and as soon as LSU got the ball back, Nussmeier passed to Nabers, who ran the ball 75 yards for LSU’s seventh touchdown, making the score 49-0.
Purdue finally hammered their way to a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter with an eight-play scoring drive for 75 yards, making the score 49-7. Alaimo made the successful 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver TJ Sheffield.
With 8:47 left in the game, LSU answered Purdue with another touchdown. Safety Derrick Davis Jr. ran the ball 12 yards to the endzone for the 56-7 score.
At 6:01 in the fourth, Purdue wide receiver Deion Burks was running to catch a pass when LSU safety Sage Ryan, attempting to break up the pass, fell on him, causing Burks to get injured. the clock stopped.
While scoring stalled for most of the fourth, LSU managed one last major stinger. LSU safety Quad Wilson intercepted Purdue’s punt return and ran it all the way across to the other end zone–99 yards–for LSU’s ninth touchdown. The extra point attempt failed, but LSU was able to secure their 10th season win as the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl Champions with a 62-7 final score.
2023 Cheez-It Bowl Postgame Press Conference
Purdue head coach Brian Brohm, and wide receivers TJ Sheffield and Elijah Canion as well as LSU head coach Brian Kelly, wide receiver Malik Nabers and cornerback Jarrick Converse spoke with the media.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org
VIDEO: 2022 Cheez-It Bowl Postgame Press Conference
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The head coaches from Oklahoma Sooners and Florida State Seminoles, as well as both quarterbacks and players from both teams talk with the press after FSU’s 35-32 victory over Oklahoma during the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium.
2022 Cheez-It Bowl: FSU Secures 25th 10-Win Season with 35-32 Win Over Oklahoma
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The Florida State Seminoles entered Thursday’s Cheez-It Bowl hungry for a win to make this another 10-win season for the university, which hasn’t happened since 2016.
At just 11:26 in the first quarter, FSU got on the board first with a 23-yard field goal, making the score 3-0.
Oklahoma quarterback and former UCF Knight Dillon Gabriel answered back with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jalil Farooq, giving Oklahoma a 7-3 lead with 7:01 left in the first.
On their next drive, FSU attempted a fourth down conversion, but Oklahoma’s defense prevented it, allowing them to get the ball back.
At the start of the second quarter, Gabriel, seeing the defense crowding out any passing chances, scrambled and flipped over two Seminole players to land in the right corner of the end zone for Oklahoma’s second touchdown, quickly widening their lead to 14-3 after the successful extra point.
With 9:53 left in the first half, Oklahoma made a field goal attempt, but it failed.
With 7:24 left in the first half, FSU finally made their first touchdown with quarterback Jordan Travis’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Ontaria Wilson. Immediately following the touchdown, FSU successfully made a two-point conversion, shrinking Oklahoma’s lead to 14-11.
FSU defensive back Shyheim Brown was down, lingering on the field during the final timeout of the first half. With some help, he was able to walk off the field. To close out the first half, Oklahoma nailed a 41-yard field goal, making the score 17-11.
FSU tried to make a score on its next possession with 15 seconds left in the first half, but it didn’t quite happen. Travis rushed the ball himself 26 yards for a first down, and on the next play kicker Ryan Fitzgerald attempted a 45-yard field goal, but it fell just short of the goal post, cementing Oklahoma’s 17-11 lead at halftime.
Oklahoma’s offense was much more proactive in the first half, going five of nine on third down conversions compared to FSU’s one of six.
FSU running back Treshaun Ward scrambled the ball one yard into the end zone for FSU’s next touchdown, snatching the lead by one point, 18-17.
With roughly a minute left in the third quarter, during FSU’s attempt to make good on a fourth down, Travis passed the ball directly into Oklahoma defensive back Billy Bowman’s hands, forcing what was already going to happen anyway: Oklahoma’s next possession.
The score remained 18-17 at the end of the third quarter.
Oklahoma changed that at the start of the fourth, with Sawchuk running the ball three yards for their next touchdown, followed by their own successful two-point conversion, propelling them far ahead again, 25-18.
On FSU’s next possession, Ward came through clutch again, rushing straight up the middle and breaking away from the crowd to freely rush 38 yards for their next touchdown, tying the score at 25.
At 9:41 in the fourth quarter, FSU’s Omarion Cooper forced Oklahoma’s Sawchuk to fumble the ball, which was recovered by FSU’s Jammie Robinson. The drive ended in Travis’ pass to Markeston Doulas for the touchdown. After the extra point, FSU led 31-25 with 7:22 left in the game.
Oklahoma was able to tie the game again with another touchdown.
FSU broke the tie on fourth down with Ryan Fitzgerald’s 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the game.
The game ended with another sack on Dillon Gabriel, his seventh for the night.
FSU got their 25th 10-win season with Thursday night’s Cheez-It Bowl victory, 35-32.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | email@example.com
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