In its inaugural game as a member of the Big 12 Conference, UCF football made an impressive debut by dominating Kent State by a score of 56-6 on Thursday night at FBC Mortgage Stadium.

UCF rushed for 389 yards on 46 carries, setting a program record for yards per rush at 8.5. Additionally, the Knights completed 25 passes for 334 yards. Notably, this marked the second consecutive season where the Black and Gold team exceeded 700 total yards in a single game, with their 723 total yards being the highest for any team during the 2023 season.

“Real proud of our team, playing your first game you learn a lot about your squad. We had a little adversity early, but the guys really responded like champions. Offensively, we ran for 300, passed for 300, you talk about balance, and we had some rhythm and some explosive plays. Defensively, we did a great job holding a college football team to six points, that’s a super job. Overall, I’m just proud of our team, they played with great energy, they played extremely hard, and they played together,” Knights Head Coach Gus Malzahn said after the season opener win.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Knights managed to limit the Golden Flashes to just six points for the entire game and prevented Kent State from reaching the endzone. This achievement was particularly significant as it was the first time since August 29, 2019, that UCF had held its opponent without scoring a touchdown.

Sophomore wide receiver Xavier Townsend took charge of the offense by securing five catches for a personal best of 81 yards. Townsend initiated the scoring in the game by making his first-ever touchdown reception, giving UCF an early 7-0 lead during the first quarter.

Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, scored a rushing touchdown from 17 yards out. In Kent State’s next possession, they moved the ball 49 yards over nine plays, but UCF’s defense made a crucial stop, forcing a 45-yard field goal, resulting in a 14-3 score.

Jordan McDonald powered through the Kent State defense for a two-yard rushing touchdown, the second of his career, extending the score to 21-3. UCF’s offensive prowess continued as they marched down the field for 74 yards, ending the drive with an 18-yard touchdown reception by Alec Holler, giving them a commanding 28-3 lead at halftime.

UCF’s offense continued to dominate, with eight different rushers accumulating 389 yards on the ground, and five different players scoring rushing touchdowns. RJ Harvey added back-to-back touchdowns after halftime, expanding the Knights’ lead to 42-3. In these scores, the Orlando native recorded his first career receiving touchdown on a 50-yard catch and run, followed by a 48-yard rushing touchdown, marking the first game in his career where he achieved both a rushing and receiving touchdown.

Mark-Antony Richards scored his first touchdown since 2021 in the fourth quarter, initiating the scoring and giving UCF a 49-6 lead. The last points of the evening were secured by running back Demarkcus Bowman with a five-yard rushing touchdown.

UCF will be back in action next weekend as they head to Boise, Idaho, for a game against Boise State on Saturday, September 9th. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET at Albertsons Stadium.

Source: UCF Knights,
Photo Source: UCF Knights