UCF overcomes early mistakes to rout East Carolina

Tribune Content Agency

It wasn’t the way UCF wanted to start its road contest against East Carolina, but the Knights overcame mistakes and penalties to blow out the Pirates, 51-28, Saturday.

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw four touchdown passes for the second consecutive game and at one point completed a school-record 18 straight passes as the offense generated more than 600 yards during back-to-back games.

It was the 41st consecutive game the Knights scored at least one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.

It was another inauspicious start for No. 13 UCF (2-0, 1-0 AAC), which gave up a touchdown after a 75-yard kickoff return to Georgia Tech on the opening drive. During Week 2 against East Carolina (0-1, 0-1 AAC), pre-snap penalties crushed the Knights’ early momentum. UCF committed false starts during its first four offensive plays of the game, a trend that proved tough to shake.

The Knights set a school record with 19 penalties for a loss of 139 yards.

UCF trailed in the first quarter for the second consecutive week after a 17-yard Darius Pinnix touchdown run gave East Carolina an early 7-0 lead.

But it would be all Knights the rest of the way, with UCF scoring 41 consecutive points.

A week after passing for a career-high 417 yards in the opener, Gabriel connected with six different receivers for 408 yards.

Marlon Williams followed up a career-best performance last week (10 catches, 156 yards and two touchdowns) with another stellar day, finishing with 13 catches for 136 yards against the Pirates. Teammate Jaylon Robinson put together his second straight 100-yard receiving day with nine catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

UCF took advantage of explosive plays with 10 plays of at least 20 yards against ECU, including a 64-yard touchdown pass to Robinson in the second quarter. It was the longest play from scrimmage this season for the Knights.

UCF’s defense returned to its forte Saturday, creating takeaways.

The Knights forced three fumbles in the first half, giving them six fumble recoveries through the first two games. Safety Richie Grant added an interception of a Holton Ahlers’ pass in the end zone late in the third quarter.

UCF improved to 23-1 since 2016 when forcing at least two takeaways during a game.


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