UCF stays in conference title hunt with win over Tulsa


Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Dontravious Wilson scored his first-ever collegiate touchdown in the third quarter against Tulsa.

Justin Holman bounced back from a four interception game two weeks ago, to throw for a career-high three touchdowns and 291 yards on 16-27 passing as the UCF Knights defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes 31-7 on Friday at Bright House Networks Stadium.

Deep passes were the key for Holman and UCF’s offense, as two of the Knights’ three touchdowns came on plays of 48 yards or more.

“I know I can put it up in the air and they’re going to make a play,” said Holman about his receivers ability to catch the deep ball. “And that instills confidence in a quarterback when you know you can just put the ball in the air and those guys can make a play on the ball.”

The Knights started the game slow, taking a 3-0 lead into the second quarter. But UCF’s offense showed up in the second quarter as Holman threw two touchdowns during the quarter, including 77-yard score to Josh Reese. The 77-yard completion marked the longest in Holman’s career, as well as the longest reception in Reese’s career.

Defense was key for UCF, as they held Tulsa to 201 total yards, while forcing three interceptions and six three-and-outs.

“I thought we did a great job coverage wise,” said UCF head coach George O’Leary after the game. “Really didn’t give up any big plays in the passing game, which is unusual because every game we’ve lost they had big plays in the passing game.”

The Knights’ secondary did a good job of shutting down the conference’s leading receiver in Keevan Lucas, who finished the game with two catches for 20 yards.

“We really keyed in on those guys,” said Jordan Ozerities about stopping Tulsa’s passing game. “Put in some coverages where we would double those guys up and it really kind of did take them out of the game.”

UCF went into halftime leading Tulsa 17-7, while holding them to 108 yards. The Golden Hurricanes didn’t fare any better in the second half, as the Knights’ defense held them scoreless during the final 30 minutes.

Dontravious Wilson did a good job filling in for William Stanback after Stanback suffered an apparent shoulder injury in the second quarter, keeping him on the sidelines for the remainder of the game. Wilson finished the game with 87 yards and his first-ever collegiate touchdown, which put UCF up by the final of 31-7.

“The guys slippery, he can definitely make a play out of no play,” said Holman of the sophomore running back. “He’s a good back, he’s patient and he works with his line pretty good, he does a good job of reading the defensive line.”

This marked the first win over Tulsa for a UCF senior class that suffered a heart breaking loss to the Golden Hurricanes in the 2012 C-USA championship.

With the win UCF improves their overall record to 6-3, 4-1 in conference, and become bowl eligible for the third-straight year. With ECU’s loss to Cincinnati on Thursday, the Knights currently sit tied atop the American Athletic Conference with the Bearcats and Memphis, who play Tulane on Saturday.

“We’re not finished yet,” said Reese about the Knights being bowl eligible. “Our goal is the conference championship and you know I’m not going to be happy until we get there and win.”

UCF will now prepare for their final home game on Saturday, Nov. 22 against SMU. Kick-off for next weekend’s game won’t be announced until late this Saturday night, due to ESPN’s six-day hold window which they used on all AAC games next week.