In the AAC opener for both teams, UCF Knights came out as a team on a mission and the East Carolina Pirates were unable to keep up with the high flying offense. The score does not showcase how dominant UCF was as the Knights won 51-28 in Greenville, SC on Saturday afternoon.
For the second straight week, Dillon Gabriel and company had no problem running their offense. Other than penalties where they hurt themselves, the squad could have potentially scored more than 51. Gabriel threw for 408 yards and four touchdowns to give UCF their fifth straight conference opener. The team finished with 632 yards of offense.
Gabriel connected with Jaylon Robinson nine times for 150 yards and two touchdowns while Greg McCrae had 16 carries for 83 yards. Marlon Williams also had a big game with 13 catches for 139 yards.
As for the Pirates, East Carolina racked up 459 yards with many of it coming in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand. Holton Ahlers threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns with a lone interception. Darrius Pinnix Jr. had a score rushing and receiving while C.J. Johnson also had a receiving touchdown.
The game started with East Carolina getting off to a fast start going straight down the field to score. But after it was all Knights. The Knights scored 41 unanswered and the Pirates did not help their cause by turning the ball over 4 times including fumbles on three straight possessions. The Pirates needed to be fundamentally sound to have a chance for an upset and they were nowhere close to that unfortunately.
By the time the game had wrapped up, the Pirates were 2 yards short of matching the record of most yards allowed in an opener in program history. The Pirates did show strides late scoring 21 points in the final 22 minutes of the game.
On a positive note, the Pirates were able to make it to gameday and dust off the cobwebs and be able to play football. They were originally to play Marshall on Aug. 29 which was postponed to Sep. 12 and later postponed again due to the Pirates having to pause football activities. It was great for those players to go out and play the game they love.
Up next for the Pirates is a non-conference matchup on the road against Georgia State.
And for the Knights, they will be hosting Tulsa in their first home game of the season.