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Knee-Jerk Reactions: UCF 63, Bethune-Cookman 14

The Knights go to 2-0 on season with an easy win over an FCS opponent

Bethune-Cookman v UCF
UCF WR Brandon Johnson
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Despite another lightning delay, albeit a much shorter one, the game between the UCF Knights and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats got started before most people’s bedtime. The game was never really in doubt as the Knights made short work of the Wildcats 63-14. It’s knee-jerk reaction time.

The game was never in doubt

Despite BCU and UCF being tied at seven early on, this game was never really in doubt. It was obvious early on that there was a talent gap between the two teams. BCU’s run offense was unable to generate any explosiveness needed to generate a run game. BCU was limited to 24 yards on 14 carries. UCF’s offense, once it got going, ran roughshod on the BCU defense.

The Knights gained 671 yards on offense versus 279 for the Wildcats. That breaks down to UCF with 381 in the air and 290 on the ground and BCU with 255 in the air and 24 on the ground. During the first half, running back Isaiah Bowser went off, scoring four touchdowns before being able to rest after the starters were pulled in the third quarter.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Bethune-Cookman at UCF
UCF RB Isaiah Bowser
5 runs for a first down during the football game between the UCF Knights and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on September 11th, 2022 at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The secondary has some major issues

The secondary was still playing soft coverage and BCU quarterback Shannon Patrick was able to take advantage of it. While BCU’s run blocking wasn’t good, their pass blocking, which is more agility based, was able to keep UCF’s defensive line mostly contained. Without the defensive pressure, the secondary gave up a lot of completions. It was no secret that BCU was going to throw a lot due to playing from behind and their blocking schemes, so it’s nothing short of head-scratching worthy why the Knights made passing the ball so inviting. On two consecutive plays in the third quarter, Patrick was able to find Daveno Ellington. The first for 30 yards and then 34 yards on the next play to score a touchdown. Against better competition, this is going to be costly.

Showing new tricks

One thing we didn’t see out of Dillon Gabriel in 2018 and 2019 was much running. We saw some in 2020, but 2021 has really allowed Gabriel to roll out and not be afraid to tuck and run. Last week, he had 12 carries for 64 yards. Tonight, he had 2 carries for 44 yards, including one of the best quarterback scrambles I’ve seen in a long time. Gabriel ran to the left and cut back to the right. Utilizing downfield blockers, he ran from the left sideline to the right and was able to stay inbounds on his way to a 44-yard touchdown.

Later in the game, after pulling the starters, UCF would sub quarterbacks Mikey Keene and Joey Gatewood in and out every two to three plays. It got to the point that even the statistics people in the box were having trouble tracking who was in.

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Central Florida
UCF QB Joey Gatewood
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Watching the Future

With the game in hand during the third quarter, UCF pulled the starters after being up 49-14 and let the second unit take over. Freshman Mikey Keene came in and did not disappoint, looking poised. While getting hit, he was able to make a good enough throw that wide receiver Kaedin Robinson was able to adjust and make a 30-yard touchdown pass for the first of his career. New transfer Joey Gatewood was also able to get in on the action. Trillion Coles, who missed last season due to a ruptured achilles, got a lot of playing time in the second half, rushing 11 times for 78 yards and scored a touchdown.

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Central Florida
UCF RB Trillion Coles
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Stat Leaders

Passing

UCF: Dillon Gabriel: 23/36 for 312 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int

BCU: Shannon Patrick: 24/48 for 238 yards, 2 TD, 1 Int

Rushing

UCF: Trillion Coles: 11 carries for 78 yards, 1 TD

BCU: QueShaun Byrd: 12 carries for 23 yards, 0 TD

Receiving

UCF: Ryan O’Keefe: 8 catches for 110 yards, 0 TD

BCU: Darryl Powell Jr: 6 catches for 51 yards, 1 TD

Game Notes

  • Dillon Gabriel has passed for a touchdown in 25 straight games. He is now second in school history (Milton).
  • UCF has had at least one passing and one rushing touchdown for 51 straight games. This streak leads the nation.
  • Dillon Gabriel is now responsible for 74 total touchdowns. He is now fifth in school history (Bortles).
  • Dillon Gabriel now has 7,853 passing yards to move into fifth in school history (Bortles)
  • Dillon Gabriel now has 13 300-yard passing games. He is now third in school history (Milton).
  • Dillon Gabriel now has 884 passing attempts to move into seventh in school history (Moffett)
  • Dillon Gabriel now has 532 completions to move into sixth in school history (Moffett)
  • Dillon Gabriel now has 8,208 total yards of offense. He is now fifth in school history (Bortles)
  • Isaiah Bowser’s four first half touchdowns is a personal best and the fourth time a running back scored four rushing touchdowns in a game, joining Alex Haynes and two times by Kevin Smith.