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UCF Defense Dominates Maryland, Knights Cruise to 38-10 Victory

Well, that wound up being easy.

Eric DeSalvo/ UCF Athletics (@Eric DeSalvo)

It ends up that this was pretty easy. In a game in which each team lost a key offensive player to injury, the UCF Knights defense controlled the line of scrimmage and hammered Maryland’s quarterbacks over and over. UCF now notches its first win over a Power Five program since beating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2013 season.

The game was an early tug of war until Jamiyus Pittman and Shaquem Griffin leveled the Terps’ excellent freshman quarterback Kasim Hill. Hill left the field and did not return. It was all UCF after that. Backup RB Taj McGowan (a steady contributor and one of the few bright spots back in 2015) ran in two touchdowns, while TE Jordan Akins added a touchdown catch. In the fourth quarter, Adrian Killins Jr. ran for a touchdown and CB Mike Hughes snagged a pick six.

Undoubtedly injuries proved a factor. Hill’s loss was a turning point. The Terps had an early 3-0 lead until the injury, and the Knights outscored them 38-7 afterwards. But the injury to Hill doesn’t diminish the quality of this win for the Knights. UCF also played without starting RB Jawon Hamilton, who suffered an early non-contact injury. This was a win UCF earned.

The Knights defense was splendid. The line was especially murderous. Hill’s replacement for the Terps, Max Bortenschlager was clobbered throughout. The whole line performed well, but a special word is warranted for Jamiyus Pittman who had two monstrous sacks.

The Terps’ sole touchdown came on a drive extended by a flurry of UCF penalties. And it came too late in the game to raise anything but a false hope for the Terps.

The Knights’ offense was good though not outstanding. QB McKenzie Milton made mistakes, but Maryland could never make him pay. And importantly, the Knights never suffered a turnover. Ultimately, UCF had more than double Maryland’s total yardage: 428 to 197. That statistic says more about the bad positions the UCF defense inflicted on Maryland than it does about the Knights’ offense. Though to be fair, UCF played conservatively as the game wore on and things seemed out of reach for the Teps.

We have to reserve a final note for the UCF faithful who traveled to this game. They were loud from the beginning, and U-C-F chants could be heard on the broadcast early and often. This observation is exactly right:

This was a dominating victory in UCF’s marquee non-conference game. Let’s revel in it.