UCF Dominates Stanford 45-27


Nate Marrero

True Freshman Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns for the UCF Knights.

Nate Marrero, Sports Writer

With the eyes of the nation upon Orlando to see, once again, if this UCF football team is a real contender on the national stage, the Knights (3-0) easily dominated the Stanford Cardinal (1-2) 45-27 with a stout defense and an excellent day over the air from true freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

“[We’re] really excited about the way our kids played early,“ UCF head coach Josh Heupel said of his team’s performance. “We talked about starting fast in this one…big win for the program – [the] kids are excited about it, they’ll enjoy it tonight.”

On the game’s opening drive, UCF’s defense forced Stanford to go three and out. After taking over on their own  23-yard line, the Knights drove down the field in eight plays and ended with 28-yard touchdown pass from Gabriel to Marlon Williams to put the Knights up 7-0.

Following the score, UCF’s defense got two quick stops to set up third and long. The pass on third down from Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello was tipped, and then interception by Aaron Robinson that was returned 40 yards to Stanford’s one-yard line. On the very next play, UCF running back Greg McCrae scored to put the Knights up 14-0 with 10:44 to go in the first quarter. 

On Stanford’s next drive, the Knight’s defense forced another three and out. After taking over at the 38-yard line, UCF scored on their third straight possession—this time on a pass from Gabriel to Tre Nixon to extend their lead to 21-0 with 8:21 to go in the first quarter.

The Cardinal offense finally found its groove on their next possession, when they drove into UCF territory. On third and five, they converted on a pass from Costello to Colby Parkinson. On the following play, Stanford scored on a 35-yard run from Austin Jones to cut the Knights lead to 21-7. 

After Stanford’s kickoff went out of bounds, the Knights began on their 35-yard line. UCF drove down the field yet again to score on a 38-yard pass from Gabriel to Gabe Davis, and the Knights were up 28-7 with 4:33 left in the first quarter. 

Following another stop by the UCF defense, the Knights drove all the way to Stanford’s five-yard line. The drive would stall out though, as an errant pass from Gabriel that was intended for Davis on third down forced UCF to settle for a 22-yard field goal – which put them ahead 31-7.

After UCF’s defense got another stop, Stanford’s punt pinned the Knights at their own four-yard line. However, in perhaps the ultimate demonstration of their offense’s effectiveness throughout the afternoon, the Knight were able to hack their way down the field until a  one-yard run by Otis Anderson put UCF up 38-7 as the team went into halftime. 



UCF started the second half with the ball in a drive that resulted in their first three and out of the game. A 21-yard punt return by Michael Wilson set Stanford up at the Knight’s 46-yard line. 

On a third and seven, Costello’s pass was incomplete – but a pass interference by UCF’s Neville Clark gave the Cardinals a first down. The Knights were just one play away from getting another stop on fourth and one at their 18-yard line, but Stanford converted on a five-yard run by Cameron Scarlett. UCF would finally get the stop on third and 12 as Nate Evans tackled Jones for a three-yard loss. The Cardinal would settle for a 36-yard field goal to cut the Knights lead to 38-10. 

The Knights managed to drive deep into Stanford territory on the next drive, but they were unable to convert any points. Otis Anderson was stopped just short of the marker on fourth and one at the Cardinal 25-yard line with 5:21 to go in the third quarter.

Stanford capitalized on the turnover-on-downs, with a score on a pass from Costello to Wilson. The Cardinal were now only down by three touchdowns as they began to claw their way back into the game.

On the following drive, UCF responded with touchdown on a one-yard pass from Gabriel to Hesscott to go up 45-17 with 11:17 left – to put the contest out of reach. 

In the first home start of his career, Gabriel completed 22 out of 30 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns.

“[Dillon has] gained more knowledge and understanding and grasp of what we’re doing offensively, that’s kind of who he is every single day,” Heupel said his quarterback’s performance. “I think you can see the confidence in him from our offensive players and our entire program.”

“I feel like Monday we had a good game plan in, everyone was confident and it showed,” Gabriel said of the team’s performance. “I feel like we just did our job. Stayed together as a unit, everyone

believed in each other.”

Greg McCrae also had a huge day, rushing for 109 yards on 11 carries.With some work by Otis Anderson, the Knights gained 198 yards on the ground.

UCF’s defense also forced stop after stop of the Stanford defense to set their offense up to score.

“Defensively we squashed everything early,” Heupel stated. “[The defense] played really smart football with our eyes in the right place and played great third-down defense. The pick early by Aaron was huge.”

Next Saturday, UCF will take on another Power Five opponent on the road as they travel to face the University of Pittsburgh (1-2)