Missouri hands UCF a second loss this season

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The UCF Golden Knights dropped their second game of the season to the University of Missouri Tigers in a 21-16 thriller. Sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles led the Knights with 267 yards and two touchdowns in front of a home crowd of 35,835 at the Bright House Networks Stadium.

The Knights got on the board with three minutes left in the first quarter on a 42-yard field goal by sophomore Shawn Moffit. The Knights took a gamble early on the drive going for the first down instead of punting at midfield.

Mizzou scored the first points of the game on an 80-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback James Franklin to freshmen tight end Dorial Green-Beckham in the second minute of the second quarter to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead.

It didn’t take long for UCF to respond, scoring immediately on their next possession. Bortles led the Knights on a 86-yard seven-play drive that culminated in a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Quincy McDuffie.

The rest of the first half was a defensive struggle with both offenses going three-and-out multiple times. The Knights were committed to the pass despite three sacks, with sophomore Storm Johnson rushing for 84 yards in the first half alone.

A bizarre incident occurred with 14 seconds left in the first half. Head Coach George O’Leary sent out his field goal unit on third down to attempt the kick when the offense waved them off the field.

The fiasco gave the offense 11 seconds to set up their play before the play clock expired as Mizzou called a timeout to stop the clock and allow the Knights more time. Bortles was sacked on the subsequent play and the half ended with UCF missing out on the opportunity for three points.

“I knew it was third down, and I’ve been through this before and I told Blake whatever you do, you don’t take a sack,” said O’Leary. “Well, we didn’t do that and you just can’t give up points like that.”

The game was essentially a tale of two halves. The Tigers were gashed in the rushing game in the first half and they made adjustments during the break. UCF struggled to run the ball in the third quarter, only gaining four yards and only able to complete two passes. Mizzou was able to take the lead eight minutes into the third quarter on a 66-yard punt return by sophomore Marcus Murphy to put the score at 14-10.

“I feel like we just lost poise. Coach always tells us to finish and we just didn’t do it,” said Johnson.

The Tigers then effectively put the game out of reach with a 10-yard touchdown run by senior running back Kendial Lawrence five minutes into the fourth quarter.

UCF was able to get a late touchdown when Bortles hit junior receiver Jeff Godfrey on an 18-yard pass with four minutes left in the game. After a three-and-out by Mizzou, the Knights were able to move the ball to midfield before a turning the ball over on a fumble by Godfrey to end the game.

The Knights must rebound quickly as they have a short week facing East Carolina on Thursday, Oct. 4 in a Conference-USA matchup. Mizzou hopes its team will win its first SEC game next week against Vanderbilt.