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With this week’s game starting at 3:30 pm EST in Tampa, Florida, UCF Knight fans were able to enjoy two annual Black Friday traditions. After taking advantage of good shopping deals in the early morning hours, the annual War on I-4 against intrastate rival USF would begin. The Knights gored the Bulls, 58-46.
Head Coach Jeff Scott had USF pulling out all the stops with tricks and gadget plays right out of the gate. With a fake field goal and a reverse called within the first three series, it was just good old-fashioned physics that led to the first points of the game. Bulls’ wide receiver Devontres Dukes out-bodied Knight defensive back Justin Hodges to pull in the 23-yard touchdown strike from Jordan McCloud.
After that, the Knights began their charge. With wide receiver Marlon Williams and running back Otis Anderson both sitting out the contest, others stepped to the plate. Bentavious Thompson capped a drive with a 27-yard scamper. This marked the first of five straight scoring drives for UCF.
Then tight end Jake Hescock turned in a touchdown from one yard out. The defense gave their offense two more opportunities by forcing a missed field goal and a fumble recovery. This allowed Dillon Gabriel to find Jacob Harris in the end zone twice for a 20-yarder and a 25-yarder to extend the lead.
McCloud hit Bryce Miller to answer back for USF to close the distance, but UCF managed to tack on a field goal to end the first half for a 31-14 advantage.
UCF opened the third quarter with two punts. This left the gate open for the Bulls to go to the running game to close the gap. McCloud rushed through a defender from three yards out to shorten the gap. However, 1:25 later, Harris recorded his third touchdown for UCF.
The Bulls would then respond with a Dukes touchdown from 14 yards away. Then the Knights countered with a quarterback run of their own when Gabriel scored without being touched on a 12-yard jaunt to wrap up scoring during that period.
In the final quarter after a USF field goal, the Bulls continued to hold the momentum when Dwayne Boyles intercepted Gabriel. That takeaway turned into a trip to the endzone for the home team that put them in striking range, 45-38.
With 9:01 remaining in the game, the Knights’ defense started to have their biggest moments. Georgia transfer Divaad Wilson aggressively ripped a ball from Kelley Joiner that was recovered by Keenan Hester. Five of the next six plays were handed to UCF running back Greg McCrae, who jetted his way in for a 20-yard score.
On the following drive, UCF imposed a turnover on downs on a fourth and one that led to their final score on the evening. Thompson went from earning the first score to putting in the final touch for his squad with a two-yard rumble.
USF went down fighting with Miller turning in a second receiving touchdown in the closing minute, but it was too little too late to stop the Knights from retaining the War on I-4 trophy for the fourth consecutive year.
While McKenzie Milton didn’t dress to play, he was a captain for the coin toss. Harris spoke of Milton, saying though he didn’t play tonight, “it’s a matter of if, not when” he would return to action.
Over and above the victory in the game, UCF Coach Josh Heupel also celebrated his organization’s ability to cope during a pandemic: “It’s a testament to our players taking accountability in protecting themselves and our football family, too. That’s a really hard thing to do. Out entire program, players and staff alike, have allowed us to get out there and go and play and compete.”