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

Game Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – The No. 18 UCF Knights were primed to have a record-setting offensive performance against the UConn Huskies in Week 11 action. But when UCF (9-0, 5-0 in American Athletic Conference) faced the Huskies (3-7, 2-5 in AAC) and their 130th-ranked passing defense, UCF scored just over their season average, 48.5 points per game, winning 49-24 over the Huskies at Spectrum Stadium Saturday afternoon.

“Yeah, you know, I think we made some mistakes, and we hurt ourselves a few times,” Knights head coach Scott Frost said after his team’s ninth win in as many games. “You know, we are driving to score, and we fumble, and then we have a low snap on the first play of the drive, and we put ourselves in a second and whatever that was, 68, and a couple more mistakes. Those are thing that you can’t do against really good football teams, and we got some of those on our schedule coming up. So, we have some stuff to clean up.”

UConn’s defense accomplished something only one other team has done against the Knights’ nation-leading offense. After the Knights started with a 28-10 halftime lead, scoring 21 in the first quarter, they were held scoreless in the third quarter. Only the University of Maryland held UCF to no points in a quarter, doing so in the first quarter in Week 4.

The Knights, however, responded to the drought almost immediately, as true freshman Otis Anderson scored on UCF’s third-longest run of the season. Anderson, who fumbled after a 34-yard reception in the third quarter, rushed for six yards on second down to set up a 65-yard outside run down the right sideline led by wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith’s blocking for a 35-17 lead.

Quarterback McKenzie Milton added to UCF’s scoring total with a four-yard rushing touchdown that was set up by Smith’s 39-yard reception five plays earlier.

“After Otis had the fumble, he was really down on himself,” Smith said after the win. “You know, everybody on the team was trying to pick him up. You know, we was just telling him it’s history. You know, you gotta come for the next play.

“And then when I seen he was in the backfield, and I know the run was coming my way. And I seen the safety go away. So I turned back on the corner, and I’m like, ‘Let me go get another block ’cause I know Otis fast,’ so I know soon as I block the corner, he was gonna be right behind me, so I just pushed up and got the next defender, and all else happened.

“He scored, and, you know, I was just happy for him ’cause, you know, with a young player like Otis, you know, it’s good that even when they mess up, they have to bounce back because, you know, things like that really get in their head, so I’m glad he end up scoring. Now I see him cheer on the sideline, happy, not with his head down anymore.”

Said Anderson after the game on Smith’s blocking: “Great O-line blocking. Got me to the second level, made a person miss, but, after that, my touchdown really goes to Tre’Quan. Without him, I think I’d have had a very hard time getting into the end zone.

The Knights jumped out to an early 14-3 lead and added to its total after a UConn fumble, the Huskies’ first of two turnovers in the first half. With just under three minutes to play in the first quarter, the Hukies ran a toss play to the left, but running back Kevin Mensah bobbled the ball for what was ruled an incomplete pass. After a review, officials ruled defensive lineman Tony Guerad recovered the fumble.

Frost drew an unsportsmanlike conduct during the review, placing the Knights at UConn’s 28-yard line. The Knights then started their ensuing drive with a holding penalty and false start, placing UCF at the UConn 43-yard line, but that didn’t stop the Knights from scoring five plays later. After Smith’s 15-yard rush and Taj McGowan’s 10-yard reception, Milton found true freshman Marlon Williams on back-to-back wide-receiver screens, eventually, for Williams’ first collegiate score and a 21-10 lead.

“Honestly, we know it wasn’t up to our standard because we know we’re better than this, and we had many opportunities to score,” Smith said after the game. “Any time we don’t, you know, end up scoring, it’s not up to our standard. You know, our coaches wanna see us score every time we’re on the field.”

UConn held UCF to a three-and-out on the Knights’ first possession, but an offsides call on the punt allowed UCF to continue its drive and score by way of Anderson’s first score of the game. The Huskies drove the ball to the Knights’ one-yard on their ensuing drive before a false start stunted the drive, forcing a Huskies field goal. Adrian Killins scored a four-yard touchdown on UCF’s next drive for a 14-3 lead.

“Nah, I wouldn’t say that [UConn’s defense] surprised me, necessarily, or surprised us,” Milton said after the game. “They’re a long, athletic team. They’re good size. Big boys from the Northeast. And they play hard. We see that on film that they play hard. They’re not quitters. They played hard the whole game, and we expected that from them. And, I mean, they gave us a handful, but, like I said, we were fortunate enough to make enough plays to win the game.”

Player of the Game: WR Tre’Quan Smith

Smith was instrumental in the Knights’ offense scoring 49 points. He is officially responsible for one touchdown, a 41-yard reception in the second, but could be attributed for 14 other points. He was Anderson’s leading blocker down the sideline for the true freshman’s 65-yard run. Smith also caught a 39-yard pass in the fourth quarter to eventually set up Milton’s lone rushing score of the game.

In total, Smith finished with 120 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. He also carried the ball for 15 yards on one carry.

“I mean, in all honesty, Tre’Quan’s a gift from God, man,” Milton said. “He’s got a lot of God-given talent, and he’s a heck of a player. He’s been doing it for three years, now, for UCF. He’s been the leading receiver all three of his years here, so he’s a heck of a player, and he keeps getting better every year, every week, every practice. He’s a leader. He comes in early, lifts weight, leaves late, lifts weights. That’s just kinda guy he is. He’s a leader on the team and very grateful to have him out there.”

What’s next?

UCF travels for the final time this regular season to face the Temple Owls at noon on Nov. 18.

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • Guerad recovered the first fumble of his career.
  • Milton has thrown at least one touchdown in 10-straight games.
  • Williams recorded his first collegiate touchdown against UConn, a 6-yard reception.
  • UCF was held scoreless in a quarter for the second time this season, as UConn limited the Knights to no points in the third quarter on Saturday. The Knights also didn’t score in the first quarter in a 38-10 win over the University of Maryland.
  • Anderson recorded his first multi-touchdown game of the season, recording three-yard and 65-yard scores against UConn. His 65-yard run is the third-longest UCF run of 2017.
  • In the win over UConn, Smith recorded his 10th 100-plus-yard receiving game, tying Ted Wilson (1983-1986) for third-most 100-plus-yard receiving games in UCF history.
  • Noah Vedral threw his first-career touchdown pass to Cam Stewart, who caught his first-career receiving touchdown. Vedral also has two rushing touchdowns in 2017.

Scoring

Time Team Play PAT Score
Q1, 11:06 UCF Knights Otis Anderson, 3-yard run GOOD 7-0, UCF
Q1, 5:15 UConn Huskies Mike Tarbutt, 20-yard FG n/a 7-3, UCF
Q1, 2:52 UCF Knights Adrian Killins, 4-yard run GOOD 14-3, UCF
Q1, 0:20 UCF Knights McKenzie Milton to Marlon Williams, 6-yard pass GOOD 21-3, UCF
Q2, 9:57 UConn Huskies David Pindell to Maso Donaldson, 12-yard pass GOOD 21-10, UCF
Q2, 7:43 UCF Knights McKenzie Milton to Tre’Quan Smith, 41-yard pass GOOD 28-10, UCF
Q3, 13:21 UConn Huskies David Pindell, 9-yard run GOOD 28-17, UCF
Q4, 14:11 UCF Knights Otis Anderson, 65-yard run GOOD 35-17, UCF
Q4, 8:54 UCF Knights McKenzie Milton, 4-yard run GOOD 42-17, UCF
Q4, 7:03 UCF Knights Noah Vedral to Cam Stewart, 35-yard pass GOOD 49-17, UCF
Q4, 0:36 UConn Huskies David Pindell to Aaron McLean, 22-yard pass GOOD 49-24, UCF

Statistics

Passing

Player Team Completed Attempts Yards TDs INTs
McKenzie Milton UCF Knights 24 26 331 2 0
David Pindell UConn Huskies 18 31 201 2 1

Rushing

Player Team Carries Yards Average TDs Long
Otis Anderson UCF Knights 9 84 9.3 2 65
McKenzie Milton UCF Knights 10 52 5.2 1 23
David Pindell UConn Huskies 21 96 4.6 1 17

Receiving

Player Team Receptions Yards Average TDs Long
Tre’Quan Smith UCF Knights 7 120 17.1 1 41
Gabriel Davis UCF Knights 8 95 11.9 0 30
Aaron McLean UConn Huskies 3 47 15.7 1 22

For more on the Knights, as they prepare for their final road game of the season against the Owls, follow Victor Tan on Twitter at @NDR_VictorTan.

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