Groundhog Day for UCF

Homecoming turned into Groundhog Day as it was the same old story for the Knights as they lost to Southern Miss, 17-6. A quick start offensively turned into more futility as the Knights couldn't get anything going at all in the second half. UCF was only able to muster three second half first downs and no points.

"We have a bunch of kids on defense that are making some things happen, and way too many players on offense that aren't making things happen," O'Leary said.

The Knights drew first blood for the second straight game as they put together what was probably their best offensive possession of the season as they marched down the field 91 yards for an opening score against the Southern Miss defense. True freshman quarterback Rob Calabrese started the game and went 4 for 5 passing on the drive for 46 yards including a three-yard touchdown strike to Khymest Williams. True freshman running back Brynn Harvey set the tone on the first play from scrimmage as he ran for 28 yards, a career long. Harvey finished with five rushes for 45 yards on the drive. Kicker Daren Daly's extra point attempt bounced off the right upright and was no good.

The Knights defense held firm for much of the first half as they stymied Southern Miss drives with big sacks and sure tackles. Halfway through the second quarter, the Golden Eagles drove to the Knights 18 yard line before defensive end Antonio Wallace made a big stop for a loss on a third down play, which forced a 38-yard Britt Barefoot field goal attempts which was blocked by Chance Henderson.

UCF's defense received almost no rest as a Rob Calabrese pass was overthrown and intercepted by Eagles redshirt junior Eddie Hicks. Southern Miss cashed in on the break as they went 46 yards in 10 plays capped by an Austin Davis five-yard touchdown pass to super freshman wide receiver DeAndre Brown, his 11th touchdown reception of the season. The Britt Barefoot extra point attempt was good, and Southern Miss took a 7-6 lead with a little over three minutes left in the first half.

The Knights offense continued to stall as Rob Calabrese was wildly inaccurate on two passes following a one-yard gain by Brynn Harvey. Southern Miss had one last opportunity for a score before the half with 2:20 remaining, but their drive stalled at their own 35 yard line.

Southern Miss put together a back-breaking drive in the third quarter as they marched down the field methodically, going 85 yards in 17 plays to extend their lead to 14-6. The 17 play drive encompassed nearly nine minutes of game time, and left the Knights defense completely gassed. Quarterback Austin Davis helped the Golden Eagles convert on six first downs, and then put an exclamation point on the drive by running into the end zone from eight yards away. At that point the Golden Eagles had more than 30 minutes time of possession where the Knights had held the ball for a little over 13 minutes.

After an exchange of punts, the Knights offense continued it's season long second half disappearing act and the Eagles took advantage with a long fourth quarter drive to put the game away. The big play was a 47-yard pass from Davis to DeAndre Brown, to put the Eagles deep in Knights territory. Southern Miss then converted on a fourth and one on the Knights 15 yard line which seemingly took any remaining gas out of the Knights tank. Southern Miss then put the game away with a 29-yard field goal by Britt Barefoot to take a 17-6 lead.

Freshman quarterback Rob Calabrese began the game by completing six of his first eight passes then went ice cold, finishing 12 of 30 with one touchdown and two interceptions.

"We sure had our opportunities today to make some hay in the passing game and move the ball down the field and we just didn't get it done," O'Leary said.

Freshman wide receiver DeAndre Brown was the star of the day for Southern Miss as he caught six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.

He's a very good receiver, he's a big, physical guy who can go up and get the ball," said senior safety Jason Venson. "He gave us problems tonight a few times on the deep ball and went up and got the ball. He was a big factor in the game and a reason they won it."

The defense gave a man's effort as they held a Southern Miss team that scored 70 points a week ago to just 17 points despite being on the field for a whopping 42 minutes and 88 plays.


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