UCF come away with win in Scott Frost debut, get first victory since 2014

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Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Tre’Quan Smith had four receptions and a touchdown in UCF’s 38-0 win over South Carolina State.

Scott Frost’s offense got off to a slow start in the season opener but the Knights used a two touchdown second half from Justin Holman to get their first victory since December 4, 2014 with an 38-0 win over South Carolina State on Saturday at Bright House Networks Stadium.

In a game where the UCF offense struggled, it was the defense that stood out as it gave the program their first shutout since November 28, 2014. The Knights held SC State to ## yards rushing and stopped the Bulldogs 4 out of 18 times on third down.

Twin brothers Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin contributed to forcing two of the Knights three turnovers, with Shaquill coming away with an interception in the third quarter and Shaquem forcing a fumble in the second.

“It’s a great experience,” said Shaquill of getting the opportunity to play alongside his brother. “Since I’ve been here I’ve just been looking forward to play side-by-side by him, when I first came here it was all about the package deal, always having someone to have my back and now to see him out there that’s the best feeling in the world.”

The running game was a bright spot for the UCF offense, with the Knights rushing for for two touchdowns and 228 yards. The two touchdowns on the ground already are half of the four rushing scored that UCF totaled in 2015. The Knights only rushed for more than 200 yards once in 2015.

“That’s a big improvement for this team,” said Frost about his team’s running game. “That’s what I want our kids to understand, they got here because they work their tails off, they worked butts off and they’re a different team than they were a year ago.”

Holman scored the first touchdown of the game with a 10-yard run late in the second quarter to put UCF up 18-0, that was followed by a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Dontravious Wilson. That marked the first time the Knights have scored two rushing touchdowns in a single game since December 4, 2014 against ECU, that was also the last game UCF won before Saturday.

Holman started off the game slow going 6-17 for 28 yards during the first half. The senior single caller settled down in the second half by going 8-11 for 165 yards which featured a 37-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith that put the Knights up 31-0 late in the third quarter. Holman added another passing touchdown in the fourth quarter when he hit Tristan Payton with a five-yard score, giving the senior his first three touchdown game since the 2014 Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.

“Once we got in at halftime and made the adjustments we needed to make and I talked to my teammates,” said Holman after the victory. “We came out and we got in a rhythm.”

Wright opened up the scoring with four straight field goals, with his longest coming from 46-yards out. The four field goals were a career-high for Wright and also marked the first time a UCF kicker made four field goals in a game since Shawn Moffitt in 2014 against ECU.

The Knights got off 91 plays during the game, which were the most plays ran by UCF since November 16, 2002 when the Knights ran 92 plays against Kent State. UCF finished the game with 462 yards of total offense, which was the most total offense for the Knights since November 22, 2014 against SMU.

“Huge first start,” said Frost following the game. “Kind of a monkey off everyone’s back to get that win so I’m really excited for the players.”

With the win the Knights ended a 13-game losing streak that dated back to December 26, 2014. The shutout victory also marks the first career win as a head coach for Scott Frost.

“It feels great,” said Holman. “We’ve got to know how to handle it tonight and tomorrow and then we have to get back to work as soon as possible so we can get ready for Michigan.”

UCF (1-0) will now prepare to travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on the Wolverines on Saturday, September 10. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. EST with the game being televised on ABC.