Coming into Saturday’s Space Game against Houston, UCF had the chance to hit a rare milestone: 20 straight home wins.
As was the case with many of those previous home games, the Knights rolled to a win, taking down the Cougars 44-29. The team has not lost at the Bounce House since 2016, making it the toughest environment in the AAC, and one of the toughest in college football as a whole.
UCF got off to an unexpected rough start on both sides of the ball. The offense spent barely any time on the field at all thanks to a couple of very fast three-and-outs, and the defense allowed enough big plays that Houston quickly built up a 10-0 lead.
Midway through the first quarter, an impressive downfield catch by Tre Nixon finally ignited the offense, with Gabriel finding Marlon Williams in the end zone soon after to put UCF on the board.
But Houston responded almost immediately thanks to a big pass of their own, setting up a first and goal where the Cougars easily scored to take a 17-7 lead. The Knights were once again able to fire back with a touchdown pass to Nixon and an explosive first quarter came to an end with UCF trailing 17-14.
The Knights finally took their first lead of the day early in the second quarter on an uncharacteristic play, with Gabriel keeping the ball and running it in himself to give UCF a 21-17 lead. But the Cougars continued to chip away with a pair of field goals, and headed into the locker room at halftime with a two-point lead over UCF. At the half, Gabriel already had 154 passing yards and three total touchdowns.
It didn’t take long for UCF to reclaim the lead in the second half, with Bentavious Thompson breaking free for a big run to give the Knights a five-point lead early in the third quarter.
The Knights never looked back from there. The defense clamped down in the second half, holding Houston to six points, and the offense continued to score. The halftime deficit was long forgotten by the end of the game as UCF earned the win.
UCF will head out on the road to take on Tulsa next Friday.