EDITOR’s NOTE: This post was contributed by Courtney Mae Schellin.
The SMU Mustangs traveled to Florida last weekend to play the UCF Knights. After SMU quarterback Garret Gilbert took a sack and fumbled the ball early in the first quarter, the Mustangs struggled to find their rhythm for the rest of the game.
With a crowd of just over 36,000 fans in Orlando Saturday night, UCF came out fired up, and they were the first team to put points on the scoreboard.
UCF’s first touchdown was thrown by quarterback Blake Bortles and caught by Rannell Hall for a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Shortly after this touchdown SMU followed with a 32-yard field goal by Mustangs’ kicker Chase Hover.
To begin the second quarter, UCF running back Latavius Murray came right back at SMU with a 23-yard rush for a touchdown within the first two minutes of the quarter after a mishandled punt by SMU’s special teams player Kenneth Acker.
UCF’s RB Murray accounted for two of UCF’s touchdowns, while Bortles also proved himself to be a key player in the game. Bortles scored three of the teams touchdowns in the game Saturday; two through the air and one on the ground.
Fifteen plays after Murray’s touchdown, SMU managed to score a touchdown of their own with a 4-yard rush from their QB Garrett Gilbert who went into Saturday’s game coming off of a career high passing effort of 353 yards in SMU’s victory over Memphis (44-13).
SMU Mustang’s star running back, Zach Line, was limited during the game to short gains rather than his usual long rushes. Despite the less than stellar performance, Zach Line did surpass former SMU player Reggie Dupard on SMU’s all time career rushing list, moving him to second on the list just under former great Eric Dickerson.
After Gilbert’s four-yard rush, the Mustangs struggled to put numbers on the board; more importantly, they were unable to stop the Knights from scoring touchdowns.
By halftime, the Knights had managed to score three times while SMU stayed within 2 scores.
The UCF Knights offense looked even better in the second half. They quickly scored in the 3rd quarter, needing just five plays to convert a touchdown.
The UCF touchdown went unanswered by the Mustangs. On their next possession, the UCF Knights scored again as Murray got his second touchdown with a pass from Jeff Godfrey for 28 yards leading to the end of the third quarter. The score was 35-10.
To begin the fourth quarter, SMU made a valiant effort to get back in the game, but the Knights defense refused to ease up. Gilbert was sacked twice in SMU’s five plays (gaining only 27 yards) and the Mustangs were forced to punt.
The next six plays were led by UCF player Storm Johnson who gained 30 yards on his own, leading into their next touchdown with an 18-yard pass complete by Bortles to Perriman.
SMU, despite trailing by a considerable score, were determined to make another appearance on the scoreboard. QB Gilbert and RB Line made connections that led to another touchdown for the Mustangs, which ultimately ended the game at 42-17.
SMU Mustang RB Zach Lie finished the game with 96 rushing yards, while QB Gilbert managed 44 rushing yards and 133 passing yards.
For UCF, Murray gained 156 rushing yards, and Bortles had 33 yards rushing and 110 pass yards.
The Mustangs face Southern Mississippi this weekend at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Saturday November 10, while the Knights will play at UTEP.
With a record of 7-2, UCF is not only predicted to beat the UTEP Miners, but is also a favorite to possibly win the entire conference.
Although the SMU Mustangs record of 4-5 is not anything to brag about, they are predicted to beat Southern Mississippi who has yet to win a game this season. The Mustangs are a 13½-point favorite for Saturday’s game at home.