Jacksonville Sports Day

WAR ON I-4: UCF Remains Undefeated; Loses QB in 38-10 Win over USF

TAMPA –UCF won the War On I-4 vs. South Florida Friday evening at Raymond James Stadium, but lost their QB. McKenzie Milton suffered a terrible injury in the second quarter and was taken to a Tampa hospital.

The Knights (11-0, 8-0) rallied around him to pick up an emotional 38-10 victory over the rival Bulls.

“Our guys care deeply about everyone on our football team, and certainly McKenzie as well,” UCF head coach Josh Heupel said. “You could tell by their reaction, wanting to be over near him, by him, their support for him, with everything that was going on in that moment. It’s hard. I’m proud of our kids. The resiliency to come back from something like that … because this game did matter. I’m proud of the way they finished the ball game.”

The Knights were leading 7-0 when Milton left the game. One play later, it was 10-0 as senior Matthew Wright kicked a 42-yard field goal. Milton had given his team that seven-point lead with a 14-yard scoring strike to Gabriel Davis.

USF (7-5, 3-5 in AAC) freshman Johnny Ford rushed for 120 yards and his 34-yard touchdown reception helped make it a seven-point game late in the third quarter.

Ford averaged 7.5 yards on 16 carries in his third 100-yard rushing game of the season. His first career touchdown reception came on a pass by sophomore starter Chris Oladokun  with 1:15 left in the third quarter before UCF responded with 21 straight points

Senior running back Greg McCrae extended the UCF lead to 17-0 with a 40-yard touchdown run with five minutes left in the second quarter.

South Florida managed a field goal just before halftime to make it 17-3 at the intermission.

“They have (risen) to the occasion,” Heupel said. “They’re playing great team defense. Everyone’s playing assignment-sound. It starts with our guys up front. They penetrated, played on the other side of the line of scrimmage in the run game, they created pressure on the quarterback. We played tight coverage on the back end as well. We have tackled really well the last couple weeks. It’s been a big key.”

McCrae rushed for 71 yards and a score in the first half, but went for 110 in the second half alone, en route to a 181-yard, three-touchdown performance. As a whole, UCF rushed for 210 yards in the second half and a season-high 391 in the game.

“It was a great job by the offensive line and they picked up a lot of blocks,” McCrae said. “The holes were there and we made great adjustments on the fly. The o-line provided a lot of holes for me to run through and I just took it.”

Knights Senior running back Taj McGowan rushed for 72 yards on 11 carries.

For the night, UCF’s defense turned in four sacks, five tackles-for-loss, six pass breakups and an interception.

Nate Evans led the way with 10 total tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage. A.J. Wooten, Kenny Turnier, Gabriel Luyanda and Anthony Montalvo all added sacks. Richie Grant recorded five solo stops and kept UCF’s consecutive games with a turnover streak alive at 30 games with a first-quarter interception.

Starting for the second time in place of injured Blake Barnett , Oladokun completed seven of 12 passes for 77 yards and opened the game’s first drive with a 22-yard run. Junior Brett Kean also saw action, completing eight of 17 attempts for 36 yards.

Bulls’ tight end Mitchell Wilcox finished with five receptions for 38 yards.

USF linebacker Khalid McGee made a game-high 13 tackles, becoming the 15th player in program history to record 100 stops in a season, after he and 17 other seniors were honored in their final regular season game at Raymond James Stadium.

The Knights will return to action next weekend, hosting Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Championship. The title game is set for Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Spectrum Stadium with coverage on ABC. The Bulls await a possible post season bowl invitation.

GAME NOTES:  Attendance of 57,626 for the 10th playing of the War on I-4 marked the second-largest crowd in the game’s history…… USF now leads the War on I-4 series, 6-4. Totaling a game-high 13 tackles, senior Khalid McGee became the 15th player in program history to post 100 tackles in a season…former USF defensive end Greg Reaves started at linebacker for the sixth straight game and posted his third double-digit tackle game in that span with 10 on the night. Reaves has posted 52 tackles in the last six games….USF honored 18 seniors that have been a part of the most successful era in program history, including a record 36 wins in the past four seasons.

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