Coming off a 25-1 run over the last two years, expectations were high for UCF heading into the 2019 season.
In the first game of the year, the No. 17 Knights lived up to the hype, dominating FCS opponent FAMU 62-0 in an incredibly lopsided contest.
Starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who was playing in his first game after transferring as a grad student from Notre Dame, threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns on a 50 percent completion percentage.
“I was excited to finally get out there, get out of the red jersey, experience getting hit for the first time in awhile,” he said after the game. “But I’m happy we came out with the win.”
He looked very impressive at times and showed excellent decision making, but often struggled to accurately throw the ball downfield. But it didn’t matter too much against an opponent that was outmatched at virtually every position.
UCF wasted no time keeping the offense rolling into 2019. On the first drive, Wimbush found Gabriel Davis in the end zone quickly for a 37-yard touchdown pass, and the Knights went on to score 17 points in the first quarter alone.
The most interesting drive in that quarter, however, came when true freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel took over briefly. He completed two passes, including an impressive arcing touchdown to Otis Anderson.
“The things he did tonight is just the beginning for him,” running back Adrian Killins said of Gabriel’s performance. “And the sky’s the limit and it’s gonna be a lot of more big plays made from him this season.”
He got a more few drives throughout the game, including one a few minutes before halftime where he fired a bullet to Tre Nixon in the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the night.
Gabriel finished the night with 127 yards and three touchdowns on 9-of-13 passing.
UCF ended up tallying an impressive 48 points in the first half. The defense, meanwhile, was as stifling as the offense was prolific. The Knights held the Rattlers to just 25 total yards in the first half, and kept them completely off the board as well.
“I feel like from a defensive line perspective, we knew what we could do, we knew how we could play, how fast we could play, how physical we could play,” defensive lineman Brendon Hayes said. “It’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”
In the second half, the Knights continued to maintain their lead with ease. The team did however lose Brandon Moore to a potentially serious injury in the third quarter.
“Extremely disappointed for him and we’ll check in on him here immediately after the game,” Heupel said “Just hate it for him.”
The Knights will head on the road for their next game to take on the FAU Owls in Boca Raton on Sep. 7.