UCF tops ECU 41-28 at home

After a tough road loss that may have cost UCF its shot at a conference championship, the team had a chance to get back on track in its own stadium.

The Knights got the win, taking down ECU 41-28 at the Bounce House on Saturday night. But the game, which included a frustrating second half of questionable play calling and an up-and-down performance from Dillon Gabriel, highlighted many of the issues that have plagued UCF throughout the year.

The first half was largely impressive, and it didn’t take long for the Knights to build a big lead. UCF scored a touchdown on its first five drives, and the points came in a variety of ways. Gabriel ran in for a score while also finding Davis in the end zone, Darriel Mack came in briefly for a touchdown pass of his own, and Bentavious Thompson and Greg McCrae added a pair of scores on the ground.

The ECU defense simply couldn’t keep up with such a versatile offensive performance, and UCF went into halftime with a comfortable 35-6 lead.

But in the second half, some of Gabriel’s struggles reemerged and the offense began to stall. The Knights went scoreless on their first four drives after halftime, and the Pirates slowly crept back into the game with a pair of field goals before scoring a touchdown to make it 35-22.

UCF’s offense finally got back on track after that score, with Gabriel finding Tre Nixon on a deep pass to push the lead to 41-22. Gabriel finished the night with 365 passing yards and three total touchdowns on 22-for-35 passing.

UCF will head out on the road next weekend to take on Temple in a big AAC East matchup.

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Christian Simmons is the founder and editor of Knight Sports Now. You can follow him on Twitter at @ByCASimmons.