ORLANDO — UCF rolled to their third win in a row riding senior Latavius Murray’s 197 total yards and three touchdowns as the Knights beat Southern Methodist University 42-15 at Brighthouse Networks Stadium in front of 36,037 fans Saturday night.
“Wins like this gives us a lot of confidence but at the same time we have to make sure we don’t get too cocky or anything we have to still go out there and do everything we have to do to win,” said Murray.
UCF opened up scoring with 5 minutes left in the first quarter on their first drive of the game when quarterback Blake Bortles tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide-receiver Ranell Hall in the front corner of the end zone. UCF was able to get possession of the ball after a sack and strip by senior defensive end Troy Davis on SMU’s opening drive.
After a SMU field goal, UCF regained possession and punted a few plays later only to have had SMU punt returner Kenneth Acker fumble the punt and returned the Knights’ ball back in scoring position. UCF capitalized on the short field position two plays later scoring on a 23-yard run by Murray.
SMU closed the gap on the Knights with about six minutes left in the first half when junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert scampered in on a four yard touchdown run just beating a UCF defender to the end zone, shortening the UCF lead to 14-10.
But it didn’t matter as Murray and the offensive line were in sync and pounded the SMU defense for 60-yards until Murray capped off the drive with a 20-yard scoring run with little less than three minutes remaining in the half.
The UCF offense maintained that intensity as they came out of the locker room following the half. After a kick return by Hall put them in prime field position at the 50 yard line, the Knights’ offense only needed five plays and a 10-yard run by Bortles to put them up by another touchdown.
The Knights offense continued to roll against the over-matched SMU defense after a three-and-out by the Mustangs. UCF used some trickery to get its next points of the game. After moving the ball down to the SMU 28 yard line O’Leary called a screen to receiver Jeff Godfrey who then threw the ball across the field to a wide open Murray in the end zone to give Murray his third touchdown of the game.
Lost in the offensive onslaught was how well the Knight defense played as they held the Mustangs to 256 yards, many of those coming late in the game during garbage time and sacking Gilbert three times, two by Davis, in the game.
The Knights added another touchdown late in the contest when Bortles hit Breshad Perriman for an 18-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the game away at 42-17.
The Knights have now control their fate as two wins almost secure their place in the Conference USA championship. They face off with conference foe UTEP Saturday, Nov. 10 in their next game.