Knights Buck Mustangs, 31-17

The UCF Knights ended their three-game losing skid as they defeated the SMU Mustangs, 31-17 at the friendly confines of Bright House Networks Stadium. The announced crowd of 43,147 was treated to explosive offense, crazy special teams plays, and big defensive stops as the Knights notched their first Conference USA victory of the season.

The first half of the game was a chess match of sorts, as UCF drew first blood with a seven play, 29-yard drive that was capped by a Daren Daly 36-yard field goal. SMU answered with their longest drive of the season, a 14-play, 77-yard drive that encompassed seven and a half minutes as the Mustangs bruising senior running back Andrew McKinney rumbled in the end zone from one yard to give SMU a 7-3 lead. After sophomore Darin Baldwin fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Mustangs cashed in with a Thomas Morstead 33-yard field goal to put SMU up 10-3.

UCF quickly responded with a five-play, 60 yard drive that took just 2:18 off the clock. Ronnie Weaver's 48-yard run, the longest of the season for the Knights, brought UCF down to the five-yard line, and after a few more inside runs, freshman quarterback Rob Calabrese scored his first career touchdown from two yards out.

The Knights reclaimed the lead with 8:53 left in the third quarter when backup quarterback Michael Greco, who was inserted at the beginning of the second half, hit sophomore Brian Watters with a 56-yard touchdown pass as Watters was running by himself behind the SMU defense. The 56-yard touchdown pass was the Knights longest in over a year. UCF seemingly took control of the game as sophomore linebacker Derrick Hallman intercepted a Bo Levi Mitchell pass and returned it to the SMU 17-yard line. The Knights offense did the rest of the work as freshman Ronnie Weaver scored on a seven-yard touchdown run. Weaver had his best day as a collegiate, as the UCF workhorse carried the ball 25 times for a career high 123 yards and a touchdown.

"I thought he lowered his pads a couple times and did a really good job in getting some things done back there," said Coach George O'Leary after the game.

The Mustangs wouldn't go down lightly as freshman quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell found a wide open Aldrick Robinson for a 94-yard touchdown, which was the second-longest in SMU history. Robinson had a stellar afternoon, finishing with ten receptions for 210 yards, the second-most in school history.

The Knights would seal the deal as they drove the ball 65 yards in six plays, capping it off with a 14-yard Michael Greco touchdown pass to wide receiver Khymest Williams. Greco finished 4/8 passing for 94 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in one half of work.

The UCF defense gave a great effort as they held June Jones spread attack at bay, pressuring SMU's freshman quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and forcing him into three interceptions. Mitchell completed 29 of his 45 passing attempts, for 351 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, for a quarterback rating of 130.

Derrick Hallman had an outstanding game as he finished with seven tackles and an interception. Standout cornerback Joe Burnett was all over the field as he recorded seven tackles and his 14th career interception. Senior cornerback Sha'reff Rashad added four tackles and closed the game with an interception.

A Knights defensive line which has struggled to get to opposing teams quarterbacks finished with four sacks, two of which by freshman Jarvis Geathers. Although Torrell Troup's four tackles seem ordinary, he harassed SMU's quarterbacks and abused the smaller Mustang interior offensive line.

"We just said we wanted to get forward, we wanted to get pressure, not everything has to be a sack," said Troup. "We wanted to get pressure, get in his face and force him to get rid of the ball."

The victory was just what the doctor ordered for the Knights, as they removed some of the sting from last Saturday's 58-13 demolition at the hands of UTEP, and evened their conference record to 1-1.


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