Gabriel, Harris lead UCF to 58-46 win over USF
football Edit

UCF Knights hold off USF Bulls, 52-38 in War on I4

The University of Central Florida Knights held of late charges by the University of South Florida Bulls on Saturday, 52-38. The Knights have evened the all-time series at 6 apiece with their victory, which earns them big points in the War on I4 trophy.

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USF Football, South Florida Bulls

The Bulls were on the scoreboard first, scoring on their second possession of the game on a pass from Jordan McCloud to DeVontres Dukes. With just under eight minutes to go in the quarter, the Bulls led 7-0.

UCF was quick to respond, scoring a touchdown of their own on their next possession. Ben Thompson took a handoff 27 yards for the Knights’ first touchdown of the game.

Then, after the Bulls go three-and-out, the Knights scored again. This time, it was a one yard touchdown pass to Jake Hescock to put UCF up, 14-7 with just 25 seconds left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, UCF built onto their lead with a 20 yard touchdown pass from Gabriel to Jacob Harris to go up 21-7. Harris’ touchdown was made possible by a 51 yard pass to Tre Nixon on the prior play.

USF Football, South Florida Bulls
UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel runs the ball for a touchdown against the USF during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo: Mike Watters - USA TODAY Sports)

Later in the period, the Knights went up 28-7 on a 25 yard touchdown pass to Harris. That drive began at the USF 42 after a USF fumble.

USF would finally get back on the board again on the following drive. With just over two minutes to go in the half, McCloud connected with Bryce Miller for a five yard touchdown, cutting the UCF lead to 28-14. Miller’s touchdown was made possible due to a 19 yard completion to Xavier Weaver and a 30 yard catch by Randall St. Felix.

The Knights would try to answer the touchdown on their next possession, but would come up short, opting for a field goal to extend their lead to 31-14 at halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, the Bulls would cut the UCF lead to ten, scoring on a three yard run by McCloud. Runs of 30 and 23 yards by Brian Battie set up the McCloud touchdown. With less than eight minutes to go in the third quarter, USF trailed the Knights, 31-21.

Again, the Knights would respond. Harris would take a pass from Gabriel 47 yards into the end zone. With 6:32 on the clock, UCF led 38-21.

The stubborn Bulls wouldn’t quit, though, and they responded with a touchdown of their own on the subsequent drive. McCloud and Dukes would connect for 14 yard touchdown to cut the deficit back down to ten, 38-28.

Feeling like momentum was on their side, the USF coaching staff opted for an onside kick. It failed, with the Knights recovering on the Bulls’ 45 yard line. UCF took advantage of the short field, scoring on a 12 yard scramble by Gabriel. With 1:13 to go in the third, UCF led 45-28.

The Bulls scored ten unanswered points to begin the fourth quarter. They kicked a 30 yard field goal on their first drive of the period and scored on a Battie one yard touchdown run on their subsequent drive. With just over ten minutes left in the game, they trailed the Knights 45-38.

USF’s defense stood strong and forced the Knights to punt on their next possession, giving the Bulls an opportunity to even the scoring with a successful drive. What happened instead was a microcosm of their season. Kelley Joiner took a handoff for a short gain, but fumbles the football in USF territory, which is then recovered by UCF. Once again, they capitalize on the short field, scoring on a 20 yard touchdown run by McCrae. With 6:34 on the clock, UCF led 52-38.

Ben Thompson would score the final points for the Knights on a two yard carry with less than to minutes remaining in the game, to put UCF up 58-38. The PAT was no good.

The Bulls would get on the scoreboard one final time on a 19 yard catch by Miller with just 14 seconds remaining in the game.

The two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense. Despite the loss, the Bulls outgained the Knights, 646-577. McCloud passed for 404 yards and 4 touchdowns in the loss. Gabriel had 336 yards and 4 touchdowns for UCF.

The Knights will improve to 6-3 on the season, while the Bulls drop to 1-8. USF has two postponed games, but there is not yet word on when or if they will be played.