Jacksonville Sports Day

UCF-FAU: Milton’s Six TDs Lead Knights Over Owls

Photo by Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO – McKenzie Milton accounted for six touchdowns to lead the No. 16 UCF football team to a 56-36 win over FAU Friday night at Spectrum Stadium.

Milton scored three rushing touchdowns and passed for three more. The junior signal-caller was 21-of-32 passing for 306 yards and did not throw an interception. He was also the Knights’ leading rusher vs. the Owls, carrying the ball 13 times for 81 yards.

“First off, that’s a really good team,” said FAU head coach Lane Kiffin of UCF. “The most important player is always your quarterback, and they’ve got a really good quarterback that makes a lot of really good decisions and makes a lot of out-of-rhythm plays … Hats off to them for playing really well, and we helped them. Three turnovers to none, you’re not going to be a good team like that obviously.”

Milton’s performance came on the heels of an outing against South Carolina State where he admittedly wasn’t sharp.

“I said earlier in the week, you know the best thing about football is getting to flip the page and play the next game,” Milton said. “You know that’s we did, we took it one play at a time.”

The Knights’ third victory of the season came in front of a more-than-capacity crowd of 44,257. Head coach Josh Heupel said the atmosphere at Spectrum Stadium is an example of the passion of the Knights’ fan base.

Senior tight end Michael Colubiale had his best outing as a Knight. He recorded career-bests for receptions and yards receiving, hauling in six Milton aerials for 84 yards. Gabriel Davis caught five passes for 91 yards and a score. Dredrick Snelson and Marlon Williams also caught touchdown passes on the night.

Williams’ TD catch was huge for momentum. The Knights led 14-0 after one quarter.

A rushing first down, and penalty later for another, brought the Owls within the red zone, and an 11-yard touchdown by Devin Singletary halved the deficit to 14-7 just before the quarter ended. That marked Singletary’s 17th straight game with a rushing touchdown

Into the 2nd, the Owls forced another Knights punt and put together a sustained drive, including a 19-yard run by Singletary, an 11-yard pass on 4th down from Robison to Willie Wright, and a Robison 16-yard run to take it to the UCF 9

On the very next play, Singletary bounced outside to the left and took it in for his second score of the night to tie things at 14-1. That made for his 53rd career rushing touchdown, ranking him among the 25 best all-time in FBS history, tying him for 23rd.

FAU made it 17 unanswered, and took the lead, on a 32-yard field goal by Vladimir Rivas with 1:34 to go in the first half

But Milton and the Knights raced down the field, going 78 yards in just 1:03. The final 21 yards of that were covered by the Milton-to-Williams connection.

That touchdown put the Knights on top 21-17 at the intermission. UCF never trailed again.

When things got a little shaky, you know we didn’t flinch,” Milton said. “So, I thought that was a big test of character for our team and it was a great win. Hats off to FAU you they played very hard, well-coached team. A lot of talent out there on the field tonight. But, you know our team battled and it was a great team win.

While the defense gave up 36 points and 447 yards, the Black and Gold created three turnovers to help keep the Owls at bay. For the third consecutive game, the Knights created three turnovers. It was the second straight game with three picks.

All three interceptions landed in the hands of linebackers. Senior middle linebacker Pat Jasinski started the pick party on the first possession of the game. He read the eyes of FAU QB Chris Robison, made the play and gave his offense possession at the FAU 40-yard line. Sophomore linebacker Eric Mitchell was up next.

With the Knights on top 42-23, the Owls were driving late in the third quarter. Mitchell’s interception of Robison thwarted an Owls’ scoring opportunity. The final takeaway of the night led directly to points. Kyle Gibson came on a safety blitz and tipped Robison’s pass. Shawn Burgess-Becker did the rest, grabbing it out of the air and returning it 40 yards for the score.

“I liked what our defense is doing as far as how they’re competing, how they’re maturing, the belief in what we’re doing,” Heupel said. “They’ve created three turnovers in every ball game. That’s a big part of the game and (we’re) really proud of what they’re doing there.”

Singletary led the way for FAU with 131 yards rushing on 25 carries, and after Whyte came Hearns with 53 (on three carries) and Robison with 34Leading the receiving corps was Wright with six catches and 58 yards.  Jovan Durante added four receptions covering 35 yards

Al-Shaair reached double digits in tackles for the 23rd time, leading the Owls with 15, one shy of a career best. Rashad Smith was next with nine, including the first sack by a UCF opposing defender this year

 GAME NOTES: UCF extended its nation-leading winning streak to 16 games…for the 16th straight game, the Knights scored 30 or more points, which also leads the nation…the Knights now lead the series against FAU. It marks just the third 3-0 start to a season in UCF’s FBS history. The other two were 2013 and 2017, when the Knights earned a New Year’s Six Bowl berth.

MILTON MILESTONES: Milton first rushing touchdown, in the first quarter, was his first rushing score of the season. He hit Dredrick Snelson for his first receiving touchdown of the season and the 11th of his career. Milton extended his streak to 17 straight games with a touchdown pass, marking the 54th of his career.

UCF DEFENSIVE LEADERS: The Knights have had at least one interception in eight straight games…Pat Jasinski picked off Chris Robison for his first pick of the season and the second of his career…Richie Grant led the way with a career-high 12 tackles…Eric Mitchell picked off Robison for his first career interception….Brandon Moore led UCF with two break-ups….first career interception for Shawn Burgess-Becker, UCF’s first interception for a touchdown since the Peach Bowl.

 

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