"It was just one of those days where the wind was really tough to deal with," Pruett added. "And defensively, the three points they [UCF] got was off a turnover."
And defense again was the spark that ignited Marshall to their fifth win in a row (5-3 overall, 5-0 MAC). After a forgetful first quarter, MU defensive back Chris Royal picked off a Steven Moffett pass over the middle and turned on the jets, sprinting 38 yards for the first score of the game.
"I started to take it up the right sideline, glanced over to the left sideline and noticed nobody was over there," Royal said. "It gave us a spark."
Chris Royal returned this interception 38 yards for the first score of Marshall's 20-3 win over Central Florida on Saturday afternoon.
Mixing the shotgun and pro formations, Marshall quarterback Stan Hill finally got the offense moving later in the second quarter. An 11-play, 65-yard drive ended with receiver Brad Bates all alone in the west corner of the end zone, and Hill zipped a 5-yard pass for the easy score. Bates's TD shot the Herd out to a 14-0 lead at the half.
"Going into the wind, you have to take a little off the pass," quarterback Stan Hill said after the game. "Brad got in behind them and made a great catch."
Marshall ended the half with 153 yards total offense, 102 of those coming via Stan Hill's 9-of-18 passing, plus backup QB Graham Gochneaur's solid 4-of-4 (42 yards) stint at the helm in the second quarter.
"The defense is really making it easy for us," Hill added. "Our offensive line was handling them all night. We should have scored about 60 points."
In the second half, Marshall's defense buckled down to the point of allowing UCF only three yards total offense in the half. The Knights had 101 yards of offense at the half, and finished with just 104 yards total. Four sacks of UCF quarterback Steven Moffett (two by Jamus Martin, one apiece by Kevin Atkins and Marcus Hairston) effectively shut down the Knights in quarters three and four.
"Our guys inside stepped up," coach Bob Pruett said. "Our guys came to play, and we played well. We had a chance to shut them out."
Kicker Ian O'Connor belted two field goals, 28 and 49 yarders, in the second half despite the wind.
UCF's lone score -a 43-yard Matt Prater field goal with 10:11 left in the game- came courtesy of a tipped pass intended for MU's Brad Bates, giving UCF the ball on Marshall's 23 yard line. UCF could only lose three yards on the next three plays, and settled for Prater's field goal.
Central Florida falls to 0-8 overall and 0-5 in the MAC with the loss. Marshall now moves on to what is quickly coming to be THE game in the MAC East this Friday night against Akron. The ESPN2 game is set for a 7pm kickoff at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio.