Coming into Saturday’s game against Tulane, UCF was desperately in need of a win.
After two straight heartbreaking losses, the Knights needed a victory both to get the season back on track and to show they are still a force in the AAC.
It wasn’t always pretty but UCF got the win it was looking for, getting past Tulane 51-34.
There were plenty of amazing offensive performances. Dillon Gabriel led the way with a stellar afternoon, throwing for 422 and five touchdowns on 26-for-40 passing.
Marlon Williams had another big day, finishing with 174 receiving yards and three scores on nine catches. And Greg McCrae made some huge contributions on the ground, going off for 162 yards and a touchdown.
Early on in the first quarter, it looked like Knight Nation might be in for a repeat of last week’s defense-free shootout against Memphis. Tulane scored with ease on its first two drives, marching down the field to take a 14-10 lead midway through the first quarter.
But, unlike last week, the defense found a way to clamp down. From that point to halftime, the Green Wave were forced to punt four straight times as the Knights wracked up sacks and tackles for loss.
Meanwhile, UCF’s offense remained blisteringly fast and virtually unstoppable throughout the first half. The Knights scored on six of their first seven drives, thanks to top tier performances from a bevy of players.
Tulane had no answer for Williams, who consistently made things happen downfield and closed out the first half with an impressive catch in the back of the end zone. On the ground, both McCrae and Bentavious Thompson continuously burned the Green Wave defense.
And, of course, Gabriel remained one of the most electric quarterbacks in the country early. After just one half, he had already amassed 307 yards and three touchdowns on 19-for-25 passing to go along with 21 yards rushing.
UCF went into halftime with a dominant 37-14 lead.
Unlike the past two games, which featured second half collapses, UCF was able to hold onto its lead. It made for a largely stress free final two quarters, reminiscent of the days of the 25-game win streak and certainly something that Knight Nation was in need of. UCF went on to win by 17.
The Knights will look to continue to build their record back up as they head out on the road next week to face Houston on Halloween.