No. 21 UCF started its 2018 season with an easy 56-17 victory over UConn on Thursday night, earning Josh Heupel his first win as a head coach.
The Knights (1-0, 1-0 AAC) got out to a fast start and never looked back. The Huskies (0-1, 0-1 AAC) took the opening kickoff and drove down into UCF territory, but Pat Jasinski stopped their drive by forcing a fumble that Richie Grant scooped up. McKenzie Milton and the offense then picked up right where they left off last year, driving 61 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a two-yard run by Adrian Killins.
Two minutes later, Milton picked up his first passing touchdown of the year, finding Ole Miss transfer Tre Nixon from 34 yards out. The junior quarterback only continued to impress, hitting Gabe Davis and Otis Anderson for touchdowns in the second quarter. The Knights took a 28-10 lead into the locker room, but the offense wasn’t close to finished.
Anderson ran for a 10-yard touchdown early in the third quarter before Milton and Nixon connected for another score from 11 yards out. Greg McCrae then got in on the action early in the fourth, catching a 36-yard touchdown from Milton to extend UCF’s lead to 49-10. That served as the end of the night for Milton, but the scoring wasn’t over. Redshirt freshman Darriel Mack Jr. made his collegiate debut in a big way, breaking off for a 70-yard touchdown run. That marked the second-longest touchdown run by a quarterback in program history.
The Huskies added a touchdown late, but that wasn’t enough to spoil Heupel’s UCF debut.
The Knights offense totaled 652 yards, with Milton finishing 24-of-32 for 346 yards and five touchdowns while adding 50 yards on the ground. Nixon was the team’s leading receiver in his debut, catching five passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Dredrick Snelson didn’t find the end zone, but still managed to haul in six passes for 90 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Grant added an interception to his earlier fumble recovery. Jasinski led the way with 11 tackles (10 solo) in addition to his forced fumble.
UCF’s nation-best winning streak now stands at 14 games. The Knights return to Spectrum Stadium next Saturday for their home opener against South Carolina State. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.