Big 1st half lifts No. 21 UCF past UConn 62-17

The first time UCF entered the national rankings – back in 2010

– it was gone just one game later.

If quarterback Blake Bortles and the Knights keep playing like

they did Saturday, they don’t figure to be dropping out of the Top

25 anytime soon.

Bortles threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as No. 21

UCF routed winless Connecticut 62-17 on Saturday.

The junior completed his first eight passes of the game and

ended his day early in the third quarter, connecting on 20 of 24

passes for 286 yards. The Knights (6-1, 3-0 American Athletic

Conference) scored on their first nine possessions of the game,

demoralizing a Huskies’ team that has lost eight straight dating to

last season.

The Knights upset Louisville last week and entered the polls for

the first time their one-week appearance in 2010. That year the

Knights lost the next game and immediately dropped out.

There was no stumble this time.

“We wanted to come out and get a big win to keep the momentum

going,” said junior J.J. Worton, who posted a career-high 119 yards

receiving Saturday and was a freshman on the 2010 team. “There is

no conference championship for us so every game is like a

championship game and play like that. We wanted to get a lead and

make sure we had a sure win. We didn’t want to let off the

gas.”

UCF is just one of just two remaining unbeaten teams in the

American along with Houston, but remains the favorite to claim the

league’s BCS berth.

“We talked about continuing (energy from Louisville game) and

having no lapses, and we did that today,” Bortles said. “We were

definitely in sync as a unit today. We move the ball well down the

field and had some positive outcomes. … When things you’re doing

are working it’s something you feel and as a unit we were feeling

that today and executed what we planned on doing.”

UConn (0-7, 0-3) was anemic on offense and helped dig its own

hole early, thanks to two first-half interceptions by freshman

quarterback Tim Boyle. A Huskies’ fumble in the second-half set up

another UCF score.

“The elements are there for us, but it’s been hard for us to put

it together,” UConn interim coach T.J. Weist said. “That’s a solid

football team. They came out on offense and used all their weapons.

You can see everything went right for them because they executed.

They took advantage of turnovers. .They did the things we would

like to have done.”

UCF had its way offensively in the first half as it hurried to a

45-10 lead.

The Knights scored on all seven of their possessions of the

half, compiling 338 yards on offense.

Bortles continued to show the poise he displayed in the

Louisville comeback win, spreading the ball around to seven

receivers on Saturday.

The Knights’ defense also carried over its momentum from that

game, holding the Huskies to 90 yards in the first half.

UConn needed a UCF special teams’ miscue to score its lone

touchdown of the opening 30 minutes.

The Huskies started the second quarter with a three-and-out and

punted, but after Worton lost the kick in the sun, teammate Stanley

Sylverain made contact with the ball after it had bounced on the

turf.

UConn recovered, and then benefited from a roughing the passer

call on the Knights to set up a 9-yard touchdown run by Lyle

McCombs that made it 21-10.

It was one of the few hiccups for the Knights all day,

though.

Trailing 24-10 and facing a third-and-long inside his own 40,

Boyle had a pass tipped by UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer and it

was picked off by Troy Gray.

Knights receiver Rannell Hall then bulled his way over the goal

line on a run from 17 yards out three plays later.

UCF got the ball to open the game and needed just seven plays

and a little over 2 minutes to take a 7-0 lead. Storm Johnson

carried three times in the 75-yard drive, capping it with a 10-yard

touchdown run.

The Huskies’ started from the 10 on their first possession of

the day and quickly got into UCF territory on a 57-yard run by

McCombs. The drive moved inside UCF’s 25, but stalled there and

they settled for a 40-yard field goal by Chad Christen.

UCF took just 2:40 to go up 14-3, this time with Bortles using a

20-yard pass to Breshad Perriman to set up his own 10-yard scoring

run.

Knights coach George O’Leary said as good as the performance was

overall, the expectation level only increases going forward.

“I challenged the kids all week to stay hungry and get after the

game,” he said. “Today was one, now you have five left. Each week

you have to treat like a championship game.”

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