Orlando, FL— The No. 12 University of Central Florida Knights (5-0) are still undefeated as they made quick work of the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, 48-20. With the win, the Knights have now won 18 straight games, dating back to last year.
The crowd was on fire and the student section was electric with every play made by their hometown Knights. In addition, UCF was dominant in their performance from the first whistle to the last in the blowout victory.
Fans were REALLY LOUD cheering on the No. 12 UCF Knights Football against #SMU! #UCF #ncaaf
Posted by The Ball Out on Saturday, 6 October 2018
The first half would begin with SMU striking first on the scoreboard with a 31-yard field goal made by Kevin Robledo. However, it would be the Knights who would deliver continuous blows that the Mustangs couldn’t recover from.
UCF would score a touchdown on each of their first three drives in the ballgame including a 15-yard run from running back Adrian Killins. The Knights would not look back as the offense collectively would tally 541 yards.
Killins was very happy with the balance of the pass as well as the rush game for the Knights.
“Whatever play the coaches call we just execute it,” he said. “We can do a lot of different things with a lot of different players.”
Otis Anderson also contributed to the Knights early lead in the game with his short rush to the end zone.
The defense would be equally as impressive for the Knights as they limited the Mustangs to just 320 total yards in the ball game. With an SMU quarterback who liked to run the football and a team that liked to run collectively, UCF stopped SMU’s run game, only allowing 83 total yards rushing.
“We tackled well and created pressure,” head coach Josh Heupel said. “We were assignment sound and gap sound and when you do that you’re going to be in position to make plays, make the ball bounce, and now you got a bunch of guys trying to make a play.”
SMU would go through a quarterback change during the first half, hoping that it would create a spark for the team. However, that would do absolutely nothing as the Knights would continue to dominate throughout the second half.
One of only two hiccups that the Knights would have in the ball game would be that of the quarterback McKenzie Milton going down with an injury while trying to run for a first down. He would exit the game, however, would return and finish the game going 18-for-34, 278 yards and two touchdowns.
“When you hear 40 plus thousand people cheering your name coming off the field and back on, it really gives you that extra adrenaline to get back out there.”
Killins would attribute Milton’s return to the ball game to his toughness.
“He’s a tough dude,” said Killins. “He got back in there and did what he needed to do to help the team secure a win.”
The other hiccup would come when the game was no longer in doubt. In the second half, the Knights allowed defensive linemen to run the ball in for a 1-yard score where he spiked the ball as his celebration.
Hill’s happiness stemmed from it being his first ever touchdown.
“I was actually on the defensive sideline and ran 50 yards onto the field to get into the formation,” he said.
However, the celebration would turn into a 15-yard penalty. Something Heupel wasn’t happy about.
“You want to continue to win you got to play smart football,” Heupel said. “It can never be about you, it’s got to be about the team. That’s a 15-yard penalty. That put them on the 50, Four down territory, that’s a seven-point play in my mind.”
Hill and said that he and Heupel talked about the celebration on the sideline and that he apologized about the play.
“I got a little carried away with it,” said Hill. “I talked to him, we talked it out and we’re going to move past it.”
Even though Hill was apologetic about the play, Milton had other feelings about the touchdown celebration.
“It was awesome,” he stated. “And I thought the spike was pretty cool too.”
SMU’s last score would come in garbage time with William Brown finding James Proche for a 19-yard score. But it was too late as UCF cruised to a victory and remain undefeated.
Even though the team picked up the victory, Milton believes that there are some things the team can work on.
“I feel there are little tweaks here and there,” said Milton. “You can never get complacent.”
Remaining undefeated is a hard thing to do as a team. This is a team that has now won 18 in a row and deserves respect from not only their conference but the nation. In addition, Heupel attributes it to the team’s hard work and preparation.
“So many variables go into a 60-minute game that it’s extremely difficult to do,” Heupel shared. “You got to be willing to prepare in a great way, willing to compete and don’t care who gets the glory. As long as you have those characteristics inside your locker room you’ve got a chance.”
The Knights will be on the road to face Memphis on Oct. 13.