EditorsNote: Corrects spelling of Bearcats in Graph 7; corrects spelling of Tavion Thomas in final graph; minor edits throughout
Quarterback McKenzie Milton overcame a shaky start to pass for three touchdowns and rush for another as No. 11 UCF crushed No. 24 Cincinnati 38-13 on Saturday night at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando.
With the win, the Knights (10-0, 7-0 American Athletic Conference) extended their winning streak to 23 games and clinched a berth in the conference championship game Dec. 1 on their home field.
The Knights rushed for a season-low 134 yards but more than made up for it thanks to Milton’s arm. The junior completed 13 of 25 passes for 268 yards and had scoring passes of 17 and 42 yards to running back Adrian Killins Jr. and 36 yards to wide receiver Tre Nixon.
Under heavy pressure, quarterback Desmond Ridder was 11 of 26 for 127 yards for the Bearcats (9-2, 5-2 AAC), who fell into third place in the American West Division.
Tackle Joey Connors recorded a sack, blocked a field-goal attempt and recovered a fumble, and defensive end Titus Davis had three sacks for the Knights, who held Cincinnati to just one offensive touchdown.
The game couldn’t have started out worse for the Knights. On their first play, Milton fumbled under pressure and end Kimoni Fitz recovered in the end zone for a Bearcats touchdown. Milton then was sacked for the second time in four plays on UCF’s second series.
Trouble with the kicking game threw the Bearcats out of sync early. Cole Smith missed the extra-point try following the opening touchdown, was wide left on a 38-yard field-goal attempt on the next possession, and had a 41-yard attempt blocked by Connors in the first half. UCF cornerback Brandon Moore returned the block 53 yards to the Bearcats’ 22-yard line to set up Killins’ first touchdown.
The Bearcats also lost three fumbles and were penalized nine times for 70 yards for the game. UCF had one turnover.
Up 21-6 at the half, the Knights led 35-6 after Killins’ second touchdown and running back Greg McRae’s 9-yard scoring burst before the Bearcats got their second touchdown when running back Tavion Thomas scored from a yard out with 9:22 left in the game.
—Field Level Media