UCF Shellacks FAMU 62-0

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UCF Shellacks FAMU 62-0

Greg McCrae celebrating after scoring a touchdown.

Greg McCrae celebrating after scoring a touchdown.

Greg McCrae celebrating after scoring a touchdown.

Greg McCrae celebrating after scoring a touchdown.

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The UCF Knights journey towards a third straight perfect regular season got started on the right foot with a dominant 62-0 win over the Florida A&M Rattlers.

“Really excited about the way we played in all three phases,” UCF head coach Josh Heupel stated in the post-game press conference of his team’s performance . “I thought after about eight plus months of investment, our kids came out, they played with passion, they played with great energy, they played hard from snap to whistle, and they competed in a really good way.”

Florida A&M wasn’t able to capitalize on the first possession of the game – three shaky throws from quarterback Ryan Stanley led to a punt. UCF’s offense, led by transfer quarterback Brandon Wimbush, were immediately able to make things happen. Running Back Greg McCrae galloped thirty yards on their second play, and then a little bit later Wimbush connected with receiver Gabriel Davis for a 37 yard touchdown to put the Knights up 7-0.

After Florida’s third straight 3-and-out to begin the game, UCF ran a hurry-up offense down the field to set up a 42 yard field goal from kicker Dylan Barnas to lead 10-0 with 5:36 remaining in the 1st quarter.

Near the end of the first quarter, true freshman Dillion Gabriel came in at quarterback. The Hawaiian completed his first pass while falling down, and then heaved a perfect ball to the corner of the end zone to Otis Anderson to put UCF ahead 17-0 with 2:22 remaining in the 1st quarter.

“When Dillion enrolled here during the spring and we had our first spring practice and the practices throughout spring he looked like a baller like he did tonight,” UCF running back Adrian Killins stated of Gabriel in the post-game press conference. “The things he did tonight is just the beginning and sky’s the limit and there’s going to be a lot more big plays from his this season.”

The Knights found themselves driving in Rattler territory to begin the 2nd quarter, but failure to convert near the end one led to another field goal from Barnas to put UCF ahead 20-0.

FAMU’s offense had to luck getting started, by 12:18 they had more plays than yards gained. UCF, however, had no such issues and another touchdown pass from Wimbush to Gabriel Davis with 10:16 left in the half.

“I think it’s awesome to have someone that dynamic who can get you yards after the catch and who can also go over the top of defenders and go make a play for you if you don’t throw a perfect ball.” Wimbush said of Davis during the post-game press conference. “I think that’s a huge asset and a huge benefit for a quarterback knowing you can trust a guy like that.”

On their seventh drive of the game, the Rattlers were finally able to convert a 1st down with a 15 yard toss from Stanley to receiver David Manigo. But FAMU wasn’t able to keep up the momentum and they punted to UCF’s Anderson, who returned it 49 yards to the Rattlers’ 21 yard line.

Gabriel came back in at quarterback, but it was McCrae’s moment as he scored his first touchdown of the game with a 25 yard trot that put the Knights ahead 34-0 with 8:02 remaining in the half.

After the Knights were forced to punt due to a Wimbush overthrow, Gabriel back back in at quarterback the Knights’ offense next drive and he led UCF down the field and capped it off with a 6 yard touchdown pass to receiver Tre Nixon.

With seconds left in the half, Wimbush led the Knights down to the Rattler 1 yard-line for Killins to punch it in and put UCF up 48-0 to go into the 2nd half.

The Knights ended the half with 462 yard on offense, 215 in the air between Wimbush and Gabriel and 247 on the ground.

Florida A&M had 25 total yards, with -9 on the ground to finish the half. The Rattlers’ only had one first down in the first half

UCF began the 2nd half with Gabriel at quarterback, and he made good use of his time with a 26 yard touchdown strike to Alex Harris. Not even two minutes into the 2nd half, UCF led 55-0.

On Florida A&M’s ensuing drive, they finally made it across the 50 yard line for the first time in the game on a drive that ended with yet another punt.

With little more than a minute left in the 3rd quarter, the game grinded to a halt when UCF starting cornerback Brandon Moore had to be carted off with a leg injury. The scene was eerily reminiscent of star quarterback McKenzie Milton’s injury against South Florida in 2018. Players like receiver Gabriel Davis, who played with Moore at Sanford Seminole High School, were visibly emotional.

“He’s like a brother,” Davis said of Moore during the post-game press conference. “That’s the last person I wanna see go down on the field. The things he’s been through all of his life, the things he wants to accomplish, the goals he wants to achieve, and just to see something like that happen to him that’s the last person I wanna see something like that happen to.”

Florida A&M drove down the field with a new quarterback, Rasean Mckay, but a 37 yard field goal attempt from Yahia Aly was blocked by the UCF special teams. The Knights still had a more-than-commanding 55-0 lead with 13:15 left in the game.

The game slowed down as the teams waded into the 4th quarter, but the Knights’ garbage-time quarterback Quadry Jones brought back the fireworks with a 49 yard touchdown pass to receiver Amari Johnson. That score but UCF ahead 62-0 with 8 minutes remaining in the game.

The Knights extended their streak of scoring 30 or more points in a game to 27 games.

The quarterbacks for UCF all had great games leading the offense. Wimbush completed 12 of his 23 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Gabriel shined in the first collegiate game of his career, going 9-13 with 127 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quadry Jones completed his only two passes of the game, with one of them being the 49 yard touchdown pass to receiver Amari Johnson.

On the ground, Killins had 14 carries for 106 yard and one touchdown. Greg McCrae also had a big day, he had 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown.

For Killins, the big performance moved him closer to being in the top five of UCF’s all time leading rushers.

“It’s awesome because to know where UCF has come from, when I got here in 2016, the year before that they went 0-12 and each year we’ve been getting better day in and day out,” Killins stated in the post game press conference. “It doesn’t just start with me, it starts with the o-line. Without the o-line I can’t get those accolades…We can only goes as far as the o-line takes us.”

Five different Knights caught touchdowns. Davis led the way with two touchdown receptions, while Anderson, Harris, Johnson, and Nixon each had one touchdown reception.

Defensively, the Knights terrorized Florida A&M from the first whistle to the last. the shutout was their first since 2016 when they beat the South Carolina State Bulldogs 38-0. While it was against an FCS opponent, the defense appeared much improved in their second year under defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. If the defense can play similarly against tougher opposition, then UCF becomes even more formidable.

The one negative about the defense was the injury Moore which is a huge blow to the Knights’ secondary. While the details of the injury haven’t been revealed, it appeared to be season-ending.

“There’s a lot of guys who are heartbroken in there,” Heupel said in the post-game press conference of the team’s reaction to Moore’s injury. “There’s tears—that’s one of their brothers and I’m not just talking about the defensive side of the ball, I’m talking about our entire football team. There’s a lot of people that are really passionate about ‘Bam’. ‘Bam’s’ a special person, not just a special player. He is a special player but he’s a special person too. What he’s come through in his life and how he’s continuing to grow, I’m really proud of him.”

44,073 people attended the game at Spectrum Stadium. The Knights’ home field advantage was felt on multiple occasions throughout the game and it certainly played a huge role in UCF’s performance.

UCF will look to continue their momentum into next week when they go on the road to take on the Florida Atlantic University Owls at 7 p.m on September 7th. There are some doubts about the game being played though with Hurricane Dorian expected to make landfall in Florida as early as this Sunday.