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No. 18 UCF pulls away from UConn
ORLANDO, Fla. — No. 18 Central Florida put up 21 points early and 21 more points late, but didn’t do much in between Saturday in a 49-24 win over Connecticut.
UConn (3-7, 2-5 American Athletic Conference) held high-powered UCF (9-0, 6-0) scoreless for more than 23 minutes in the middle of the game until Otis Anderson broke loose for his second touchdown. Anderson’s 65-yard run came just after the Knights had posted only their second scoreless quarter of the season.
“I think it speaks volumes about our team when we’re not at our best and still win by 25 points,” UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton said. “We were just off.”
The Knights came into the game averaging 48.5 points per game, the most in the nation. But after taking a 21-3 lead in the first quarter, they sputtered until their big fourth quarter. The sputtering started with Anderson’s fumble when they had a 28-10 lead, so he saw his game-breaking run as redemption.
He finished with nine carries for 84 yards, both career highs.
“My game kind of went up and down and back up,” he said. “I felt I had a good day.”
Milton completed 24 of 36 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another touchdown. He entered the game second nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 189.1.
Quarterback David Pindell was UConn’s leading rusher with 96 yards, and he completed 18 of 31 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
UCF is two games away from an undefeated regular season. The Knights travel to Temple next Saturday before a Nov. 24 home game against South Florida.
“I told the team after I’m amazed and proud of what they’ve accomplished. It’s hard to be 9-0,” Frost said. “It’s also an interesting feeling when you come off and not everybody is elated, because they know we didn’t play quite our best as a football team.”
A couple of penalties cost UConn a chance to keep up with UCF early in the game.
On their first possession the Knights lined up to punt on a fourth-and-3, but a UConn lineman jumped offside, resulting in a first down. UCF went on to complete an 11-play, 78-yard drive, ending in Anderson’s 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
UConn had a chance to tie it after driving to the UCF 1-yard line on its first try, but a false start took the Huskies back five yards and they settled for Mike Tarbutt’s 20-yard field goal.
“We are not a heavily penalized team but today we were,” said UConn coach Randy Edsall. “I’m going to take a look at that and figure out why.”
UConn would not get a touchdown until Pindell’s 12-yard pass to Mason Donaldson with 9:57 left in the half, and by then UCF had a 21-3 lead.
The Huskies opened the second half with a four-play, 91-yard touchdown drive, with Pindell running the final nine yards to cut UCF’s lead to 28-17.
The game then settled into an exchange of punts and failed fourth-down conversions until Anderson’s run, and then UCF hit its stride. The Knights just missed posting their fifth game this season with at least 50 points.
“We didn’t make any mistakes that stopped drives,” Frost said.
“It’s hard to get in a rhythm when you’re making mistakes or you have a negative play, a penalty or a turnover. If we can stay in rhythm on first and second down, then we’re in a good spot. I think we did that in the fourth quarter.”
NOTES: Connecticut QB David Pindell started for the first time since the season opener. Bryant Shirreffs had started eight straight games, but the senior quarterback is on concussion protocol and did not make the trip. ... Central Florida WR Tre’Quan Smith caught seven passes for 120 yards and a TD. ... With UCF backed up to its 11-yard line, UConn had thoughts about ending the first half with a field goal, but Mac Loudermilk ended those plans with a 69-yard punt. ... The Huskies will try to break their three-game losing streak next Saturday against Boston College at Fenway Park.