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UCF Cruises Past Connecticut 49-17

UCF went up 28-0 in the second quarter and cruised to victory over Connecticut.

ORLANDO - Sometimes a team just gets hot. The UCF offense fit that mode on Saturday, as it crushed Connecticut from the outset of the game all the way through the final whistle in the fourth quarter.

By halftime, UCF had accumulated 318 yards of offense and led 35-14 going into the break. It was a quick-strike offensive attack, mixed in with some power running.

The first three scores for the Knights all came on the ground, with Johnny Richardson scoring from nine yards, quarterback Mikey Keene running in a 30 yard score, and running back Mark Antony-Richards plowing in from eight yards.

With the rushing attack doing well, so was the UCF defense. The first three drives for Connecticut resulted in seven plays, four yards, and one interception by cornerback Justin Hodges on a fantastic individual play where he took the football away from the wide receiver.

Before halftime, UCF had reached into its bag of tricks and utilized the arm, not the legs, of wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe. He found wide receiver Brandon Johnson for a 49 yard touchdown after being handed the football.

Just enough outside-the-box play calling to keep Connecticut honest. That formula served the Knights well all game long. Defensively, UCF surrendered a few big runs it would like to get back, but overall, the Knights held their ground.

The second half saw far less action, as both teams traded punts during the third quarter, and the defenses settled in. The one big play saw Keene hit a deep over route to Johnson for a 29 yard gain, but two plays later O’Keeefe fumbled after improvising on what was initially another trick play attempt similar to the one he threw to Johnson for a score in the first half.

With the score still 35-14 UCF heading into the final quarter, the Knights had a first and goal at the Huskies’ five yard line. The final play of the third quarter saw Richardson run up the middle for a 24 yard gain.

The first play of the fourth quarter saw the Knights get back on the scoreboard, as backup signal caller Parker Navarro did a great job of following his blockers during a lead isolation play for the quarterback. At that juncture, the Knights went up 42-14 with 14:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.

When Keene hit wide receiver Amari Johnson for a three yard touchdown, that moved the scoring to UCF 49 and Connecticut 14, with 10:43 remaining in the fourth quarter. It also represented Johnson’s first reception for a touchdown in 2021.

With the Knights rotating in several underclassmen and backups throughout the fourth quarter, the offense slowed down quite a bit. Connecticut put the final 10 points on the board, to finish up the scoring at 49-17.

Statistics to Know

Johnson had his best game since coming over from Tennessee. The fifth-year senior wide receiver had seven receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown.

Keene went 23/29 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. He looked much more comfortable during today’s game.

UCF saw three separate runners complete a run of at least 30 yards: Keene (30 - TD), Richardson (38) and backup quarterback Navarro (32).

As a team, the Knights rushed for over 200 yards for the fifth time on the season, with the prior four games coming against Boise State (255) Bethune-Cookman (290), at Louisville (212), and Memphis (215).

Individually, the Connecticut game marked the third time this season that Richardson went over the century mark with his 14 carries resulting in 147 yards and a score. His prior two games over 100 yard included Louisville (101) and East Carolina (104).

Although he did not play as much as he did prior to his injury, UCF wide receiver Jaylon Robinson was running full speed down the sidelines on multiple deep routes. He finished with two receptions for 22 yards on the evening.

The Knights intercepted three passes on the evening, with Hodges, safety Divaad Wilson, and defensive tackle Cam Goode all coming up with a pick.

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Linebacker Tatum Bethune produced 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and one-half a sack. Today’s performance allowed for his second game with over 10 tackles, as he recorded 11 against East Carolina.

For UCF coverage and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. For more college football, UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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