UCF easily defeats Temple, improves to 5-2

Photo courtesy of UCF Athletics Communications

Despite a rough start to the season, UCF had the chance to get a lot of things back on track Saturday night. A win over Temple would give the Knights a three-game winning streak, push their record to 5-2 and set them up nicely for a major duel with Top 10 Cincinnati next weekend.

UCF got the exact win it was looking for, cruising to an 38-13 victory over Temple. Despite a bumpy first half, Dillon Gabriel led the way with 268 passing yards and two touchdowns.

UCF got off to a blistering start in the first quarter, thanks to a pair of big-time turnovers by the defense. Temple’s first two drives ended in a fumble recovered by UCF and an interception by Tatum Bethune, both of which the Knights’ offense converted into touchdowns.

UCF looked like it was well on its way to a blowout early, holding a 21-0 lead after one quarter.

But the Knights’ typically high-powered offense stalled heavily in the second quarter. Gabriel struggled to find open receivers and lacked his characteristic sharpness. After one half, he had completed just 5 of his 14 pass attempts for 84 yards. At one point, UCF went five straight drives without scoring.

The game could have easily become a close contest, if not for the stout defense continuing to perform. The Knights allowed just three points in the first half and continuously shut down the Owls’ offense.

UCF went into halftime with a 21-3 lead.

Despite the slow second quarter, UCF came out firing to open the second half. Gabriel reestablished his connection with Marlon Williams, finding the receiver for two touchdown passes to stretch the lead as the Knights’ defense continued to effectively shut down the Owls. UCF went on to win by 25.

Now, UCF will have a week to prepare for its biggest test of the season, as Cincinnati heads to Orlando. A win could possibly put the Knights back in the conference championship discussion, but also remind the rest of the AAC who is truly the dominant team of the conference.

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