The Knights’ offense was dysfunctional throughout the night and continued to suffer on third down (converting only eight of twenty-three). Tulsa made some huge plays on offensive to overcome a Knights defense that started stout but was asked to do way, way, too much.
UCF freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton was inaccurate throughout the night. Sometimes, he threw too low. Often, he threw too high. It was bad. And it definitely wasn’t enough to keep pace with a Tulsa offense that picked up steam as the game progressed.
Tulsa trampled UCF with its running game tandem of D’Angelo Brewer and James Flanders, who ran for 167 and 163 yards respectively. The Golden Hurricane ended with 474 total yards – 348 of them rushing and 126 passing.
But the game started as a defensive struggle. UCF went three and out (the first of many) to start. And on Tulsa’s first drive, D.J. Killings jumped a route, picking off Dane Evans and taking it to the house for six. It was the Knight’s seventh non-offensive touchdown on the season (a total admittedly skewed by the three defensive touchdowns a couple of weeks ago against Tulane). The Knights went for two, which back-up quarterback Nick Patti picked up easily with a shovel pass to tight end Cal Bloom.
But despite some defensive stands, the disjointed UCF offense failed to extend the lead. Eventually Flanders ripped a sixty yard run, with Demeitre Brim saving the touchdown with a tackle at the second yard line. But soon enough, Flanders was in the end zone.
The Knights suffered a horrible self-inflicted wound with a little over a minute left in the first quarter. Milton and running back Jawon Hamilton botched a pitch to the short side of the field, and Tulsa recovered the fumble giving them great field position. Tulsa would score in short order when UCF’s Justin McDonald failed to wrap up Brewer for what could have been a tackle for a loss.
UCF continued to be ineffective on offense, but hung in thanks to a hard hitting defense and some special teams play. Shaquill Griffin blocked a Tulsa field goal attempt, and UCF’s Matthew Wright hit a 48 yard field goal on the ensuing possession to narrow things to 11-14.
The Knights would add another long field goal – this time from 48 yards – to tie things going into the half. It was a play made possible thanks to a fifteen yard penalty for roughing the passer and targeting by Tulsa’s Petera Wilson, who hammered Milton, helmet to helmet.
But Tulsa would own the third quarter.
On what would have been the Knight’s first possession of the second half, Chris Johnson muffed the punt – the ball bounced off his face mask and directly into the arms of Cristian Williams to give the Golden Hurricanes excellent field position. The Tulsa drive ended in a fifteen yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Atkinson. With the extra point, Tulsa went up 21-14.
Again UCF failed to get anything going on offense and Tulsa took the opportunity to extend the lead. Evans would hit Keevan Lucas for a 45 yard touchdown pass as Lucas backpedaled into the end zone.
You should get 12 points for backwards somersault TDs pic.twitter.com/LXapA9mWxH— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) November 20, 2016
In the closing moments of the third quarter, D’Angelo Brewer tacked on another touchdown and the Golden Hurricane made it 34-14. All five of Tulsa’s touchdown drives to this point had been under a minute (Dang, guess who was worried about that?).
But the Knights flirted with giving the fans some hope. Freshman Running Back Adrian Killins Jr. would get a touchdown for the Knights early in the fourth (but Tulsa’s Jerry Uwaezouke blocked the extra point). It was UCF’s first and only offensive touchdown of the night.
The Knights fall to 6-5 with a very tough game against rival USF on Saturday. With a season finale against a bad Cincinnati team, Tulsa will likely end the regular season 9-3.