The Gasparilla Bowl was not where UCF wanted to be at the start of the 2019 season. Coming off a 25-1 record over the last couple years, the Knights had set their sights on higher goals, like a third straight New Year’s Six trip.
But that disappointment didn’t stop the team from still joining some elite company, as UCF took down Marshall 48-25 to win 10 games for a third straight season. The Knights became one of just eight teams that have won at least 10 times every year since 2017.
UCF had relied on its high-powered offense to coast to wins all season, but it was the defense that shined in the first half. The Knights forced four turnovers and scored twice, with Richie Grant returning a pick six and Tre’mon Morris Brash running in a fumble. The defense forced a Marshall punt or turnover on eight of the Thundering Herd’s nine first half drives.
Those defensive scores ended up being crucial for UCF as the offense struggled to get anything going in the first half, with that side of the ball generating just 10 points. Despite the forced turnovers and a 21-point first quarter, the Knights went into halftime up just 24-7.
In the second half, UCF’s offense finally came to life. The Knights scored 21 points in the third quarter, breaking open the game behind the stellar play of Dillon Gabriel. But the team couldn’t fully pull away as the defense began to slip up, allowing 18 points. UCF headed into the final quarter up 45-25.
The team tacked on three more points in the fourth, as the Knights held on to post a big win in their final game of the 2019 season. Gabriel finished the night having completed 14 of 24 passes for 260 yards and three total touchdowns.
He finished his freshman season with 33 total touchdowns, 20 more than McKenzie Milton had in his freshman campaign.