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UCF Leads USF 14-7 at Halftime

UCF should be up double digits at halftime, but missed opportunities and penalties hindered the Knights.

ORLANDO - This is a game of missed chances. Truly, both teams fit that definition. UCF is playing down to USF’s level. The Knights are clearly better, but defensive and offensive penalties held UCF back, as did kicking woes.

After the Knights marched down to the USF 18 on their first drive, kicker Daniel Obarski missed a 35 yard field goal. The Knights played good defense on the next possession, allowing only one first down. Then, the Knights started to settle in on the offensive side of the football.

Beginning the second drive at their own 36 yard line with 9:39 remaining in the first quarter. That’s when UCF running back Johnny Richardson began making an impact. He had a 15 yard run up the middle, and a key 23 yard screen pass reception and run during a third down and nine. That set up UCF’s first touchdown.

Running back Mark Antony-Richards ran for two yards, and then backup quarterback Parker Navarro rushed for a three yard touchdown on a quarterback counter play over the right side of the UCF offensive line.

With 6:16 remaining in the first quarter, 7-0 UCF over USF. The game was quickly tied up, however, after a critical 15 yard facemask penalty on UCF saved USF’s drive. From there, the Bulls made some really big strides with their inside rushing attack, as running back Jaren Mangham had multiple big runs in the middle of the field, which provided McClain to run around the left end after a fake and jog into the end zone.

At the end of one, it was 7-7. Then, after trading punts once again, the Knights took over at their own 46 yard line. Richardson burst up the middle for a 33 yard gain. Four plays later, Obarski missed a 45 yard field goal. The Knights are letting the Bulls hang around despite 146 to 64 total yard advantage.

Not to be out done, the USF offense marched to the UCF 30 before being halted, then kicker Spencer Shrader missed a 47 yard field goal.

Finally, the Knights made a big play. Amari Johnson faked like he was catching a punt, and it was actually Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, and he rumbled 39 yards to the 27 of USF. Six plays later, Mikey Keene found Brandon Johnson just inside the pylon for a touchdown with just :11 remaining in the second quarter. From there, UCF went into halftime up 14-7.

Here are some statistics to know.

Third Down Defense

The Knights gave up some rushing yards, but overall, the defense really stiffened when it was third down. The Bulls were only 1/7 on third downs, and that’s the sign of good defense.

Comparing Rushing Statistics

At the end of the first quarter, the Knights held a 37 to 34 rushing advantage.

At halftime, UCF led the rushing battle 77 to 53.

UCF Containing McClain

At the end of the first quarter, McClain had minus-nine yards rushing, but did score the first touchdown for the Bulls. Much of that had to do with the defensive ends for the Knights creating havoc in the backfield. Whether it was Big Kat Bryant or Tre’mon Morris-Brash, the UCF defense charged into the backfield to corral McClain. It’s been working.

USF tried to get quarterback Timmy McClain outside the tackle box several times, but with very little success minus their one touchdown drive. Barring something unforeseen in the second half, the Bulls will need to be far more successful with their traditional rushing attack and passing attack to move the football.

UCF has taken away McClain’s running lanes. He has nine carries for minus-10 yards in the game.

Keene Took a Big Shot

At the beginning of the second quarter, Keene threw a pass right when he was releasing the football. He was buried into the turf. He came up hurting. That’s something to watch moving forward.

The Eye Test

UCF is bigger, stronger and faster. It’s not surprising to see the Knights leading at halftime, but again, it should be a bigger lead.

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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