On a rainy Orlando night in front of a mostly empty stadium, the ECU Pirates snapped their three game losing streak and UCF re-affirmed its position as the least watchable team in the FBS.
ECU discovered the simplest way to revive an uninspiring offense: play a game against the poor Knights. Pirates QB Blake Kemp and WR Isaiah Jones got anything they wanted against an atrocious UCF defense that never mustered a pass rush, constantly missed tackles, and collapsed totally in the secondary.
By the end of the game, it was hard to remember that there was a time when the Knights had briefly led. UCF's opening drive started scary with a fumble by Holman that the Knights recovered but it ended with a touchdown catch by redshirt freshman Tre'Quan Smith (who is enjoying arguably the best season by a freshman WR in school history).The drive was helped by Holman taking advantage of the free play (something he's historically done a very good job of) on an ECU offside penalty with a long pass to Jordan Franks.
And that was mostly it for the Knights.
Blake Kemp promptly responded by carving up the young and dumb UCF secondary with a nine play 81 yard drive ending in a touchdown pass to WR Brandon Bishop. On the subsequent kickoff return, UCF's Tristan Payton took the ball out of the end zone and fumbled shortly before the thirty. ECU - of course - recovered. Minutes later, Kemp threw a touchdown pass to Isaiah Jones in the corner of the endzone.
UCF did have a brief flirtation with - you know - doing something. Later in the first quarter, UCF QB Justin Holman threw a beautiful pass to Payton for what would have been a touchdown if not for the egregious holding penalty by Tate Hernley.
In the second quarter, things really collapsed for the Knights. Kemp threw another touchdown pass. ECU kicked its first field goal. And Pirate RB Chris Hairston had a tremendous touchdown run in which he eluded five flailing UCF tacklers. In between all of that, UCF's terrible injury luck once again reared its ugly head. Holman suffered a high ankle sprain and was replaced at QB by redshirt freshman Tyler Harris.
Harris was utterly ineffective, going an abysmal 2/12 for 21 yards (he would eventually be replaced by Bo Schneider in the fourth quarter. Schneider did not complete a pass).
The second half started with a little bit of excitement for Knights fans when UCF beautifully executed an onside kick. But with Harris at the helm, the Knights failed to capitalize on the good field position. The Pirates tacked on 13 points in the third quarter, including another touchdown catch by Isiah Jones.
Oh. And there was another UCF fumble on a kickoff return, this time by Blake Tiralosi.
ECU could have made things even worse, but had a couple of touchdowns called back for penalties. Even the lopsided final score of 44-7 fails to adequately capture just how badly UCF performed and just how thoroughly ECU dominated the game. ECU's leading wide receiver Isaiah Jones had more receiving yards and more touchdowns than UCF's entire team did. And Hairston ran for more than UCF's entire team did. All told, the Pirates outgained the Knights to the tune of 619 to 232 total yards.
The Pirates should celebrate a well-delivered clobbering. UCF, meanwhile, limps to its season finale against rival USF.