(Photo by Adrian J. Hernandez / New Day Review)

Game Recap

Every week, it seems like the No. 25 UCF Knights are improving. The Knights showed off an improved run game, rushing for 600 yards over their previous two games. In Week 6, it was sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton who held the spotlight.

Milton continued his impressive season Saturday night, as UCF (4-0, 2-0 in American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Cincinnati (2-4, 0-2 in AAC) 51-23 at Nippert Stadium. In the Knights first AAC road game of the season, the game would end with four seconds left in the third quarter because of lightning in the area. Milton threw a career-high five touchdown passes in the shortened game.

There would be no letdown from the Knights, who were coming off a conference-opening, home victory over the University of Memphis that vaulted UCF into the top-25 rankings for the first time since 2013. The team was led by Milton and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith, who caught three of Milton’s touchdowns for his own career-high. Against Cincinnati, Milton went 16-for-19 for 374 yards and five touchdowns.

UCF’s win could be summarized in a third-quarter play that showed off both Milton’s precision and dominance for the evening. With about three minutes to go in the third, Milton rolled out to his left and dropped a pass to Smith, who was coming across the field, for a 22-yard score. The play would not only give UCF a 51-23 lead with 2:47 left, but it would also be the Kapolei, Hawaii, native’s fifth touchdown of the night.

It didn’t take Milton long to show it would be a special night for him. On the fourth play of the Knights’ opening drive, Milton took a snap and faked to running-back Adrian Killins before firing a 54-yard bomb to a wide-open Dredrick Snelson for an early 7-0 lead.

The Knights didn’t waste any time to strike again. After a four-play drive, Cincinnati punted, and the Knights were able to strike again in one play. Milton dropped back and hit Smith for a 79-yard strike down the right seam, as the redshirt junior wide receiver beat his defender easily. UCF led 13-0 after a failing to convert on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt.

Cincinnati found life with its first score with about five minutes left in the first quarter. The Bearcats exposed UCF’s defense with a 12-play, 82-yard drive that lasted 5:37 and ended with a Hayden Moore two-yard rushing touchdown on third-and-goal. Safety Tre Neal was called for a pass-interference penalty that put Cincinnati on the UCF two-yard line.

UCF matched Cincinnati’s first scoring drive with its third, going 75 yards in eight plays. Otis Anderson would draw a pass-interference penalty in the end zone to put the ball at the two-yard line. UCF’s “Tank” package entered the game to help Taj McGowan bang through for a one-yard score and a two-possession lead over Cincinnati.

From there, the game would be all but over. The Knights would go into halftime with a 37-16 lead and complete control. UCF scored 14 more in the third quarter, holding Cincinnati to seven, before a one-hour lightning delay ultimately ended the bout.

Player of the Game: QB McKenzie Milton

For the second game in a row, another UCF offensive starter has a record-setting performance. Milton’s five-touchdown performance is the third time this season he’s thrown for three or more touchdowns. He had his most efficient game of the season, completing a season-high 84.2 percent of his passes. His previous high was 76.2 percent against the FIU Panthers in Week 1.

What’s Next?

UCF will return home to take on East Carolina University (1-5, 1-2 in AAC) on Saturday for homecoming. Last season, the Knights opened conference play with a 47-29 win in North Carolina. The Knights also lost 26-25 to the Temple Owls on homecoming after leading 25-14 at the half.

Seyvon Lowry Snags Another Interception

Among the Knights’ leaders in interceptions are expected names like cornerback Mike Hughes and safeties Kyle Gibson and Tre Neal. But tied at two interceptions with both Hughes and Gibson is an unlikely name: D-lineman Seyvon Lowry.

Lowry recorded his second interception of the season in as many games. Against Memphis, Lowry also snagged a pick after Nate Evans’ tip set up the turnover. Gibson would have led the team in picks with three after the win over Cincinnati, but an offsides call negated the second-quarter, would-be turnover.

Tre’Quan Smith Has Another Big Game

Last week against Memphis, Smith had two touchdown catches of 34 and 25 yards. This week, Smith would one-up that performance with receiving touchdowns of 79, 41 and 22 yards.  On the 41-yard score, Smith would find himself wide open after a pump fake by Milton. The scores would give the receiver his fourth-career game of at least two touchdowns. Smith would also get his first-career rushing touchdown when he took a sweeping handoff to the right and patiently navigated a blockade of Cincinnati defenders for the five-yard score.

Michael Colubiable Finally Records 1st Touchdown

Fate played a cruel trick on Michael Colubiale two games ago against the Maryland Terrapins. Colubiale was tackled by the turf monster at the one-yard line on what would have been his first-ever collegiate touchdown. Fortunately for Colubiale, he finally got his long-anticipated touchdown midway through the second quarter on a leaping, 21-yard snag.

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • UCF is 4-0 for the first time since 1982.
  • With five passing touchdowns, Milton set his new single-game high.
  • Milton’s five touchdowns tied him for third-most in a single game in UCF history, tying Darin Slack, Darin Hinshaw, Ryan Schneider and Daunte Culpepper.
  • In addition to Smith’s career-high three receiving touchdowns, he also ran for his first.
  • UCF’s offensive line allowed Milton to be sacked for the first time this season against Cincinnati.
  • Colubiale scored his first-career touchdown, a 21-yard score in the second quarter.
  • The Knights scored on all nine of their possessions.

Scoring

Time Team Play PAT Score
Q1, 13:39 University of Central Florida McKenzie Milton to Dredrick Snelson, 54-yard pass GOOD 7-0, UCF
Q1, 10:40 University of Central Florida McKenzie Milton to Tre’Quan Smith, 79-yard pass 2-point, FAILED 13-0, UCF
Q1, 4:58 University of Cincinnati Hayden Moore, 2-yard run GOOD 13-7, UCF
Q1, 1:32 University of Central Florida Taj McGowan, 1-yard run GOOD 20-7, UCF
Q2, 11:03 University of Central Florida Matthew Wright, 47-yard FG n/a 23-17, UCF
Q2, 7:31 University of Central Florida McKenzie Milton to Michael Colubiale, 21-yard pass GOOD 30-17, UCF
Q2, 3:57 University of Cincinnati Hayden Moore, 16-yard run NO GOOD 30-13, UCF
Q2, 2:57 University of Central Florida McKenzie Milton to Tre’Quan Smith, 79-yard pass GOOD 37-13, UCF
Q2, 0:00 University of Cincinnati Ryan Jones, 26-yard FG n/a 37-16, UCF
Q3, 10:06 University of Central Florida Tre’Quan Smith, 5-yard run GOOD 44-16, UCF
Q3, 4:19 University of Cincinnati Hayden Moore to Gerrid Doaks, 1-yard pass GOOD 44-23, UCF
Q3, 2:47 University of Central Florida McKenzie Milton to Tre’Quan Smith, 22-yard pass GOOD 51-23, UCF

Statistics

Passing

Player Team Completed Attempted Yards Touchdowns Interceptions
McKenzie Milton University of Central Florida 16 19 374 5 0
Hayden Moore University of Cincinnati 23 40 278 1 1

Rushing

Player Team Rushes Yards Yards/Rush Touchdowns Long
Taj McGowan University of Central Florida 7 26 3.7 1 7
Adrian Killins University of Central Florida 5 47 9.4 0 18
Marlon Willaims University of Central Florida 1 47 47.0 0 47
Mike Boone University of Cincinnati 8 23 2.9 0 14
Hayden Moore University of Cincinnati 13 75 5.8 2 17

Receiving

Player Team Catches Yards Yards/Catch Touchdowns Long
Tre’Quan Smith University of Central Florida 5 165 33.0 3 79
Dredrick Snelson University of Central Florida 3 74 24.7 1 54
Otis Anderson University of Central Florida 2 42 21.0 0 27
Jordan Akins University of Central Florida 2 26 13.0 0 21
Kahlil Lewis University of Cincinnati 7 89 12.7 0 26
Mike Boone University of Cincinnati 3 39 13.0 0 37

For more on the Knights, as they look to carry their momentum into the next conference bout, follow Ryan Weiss on Twitter at @NDR_RyanWeiss.

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