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UCF Triumphs in Thrilling Showdown to Secure First Big 12 Victory Against Cinn

Kevyn Bryant II

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photo credit: sportsclubflorida.com

In a euphoric postgame scene at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, UCF’s quarterback, John Rhys Plumlee, made a spirited dash into the stands to embrace his mother. This heartwarming moment was a testament to the exuberant celebration that Plumlee, his Knights teammates, and their loyal fans hadn’t experienced since they embarked on their inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference.

The game was a hard-fought battle, with UCF ultimately prevailing in a 28-26 victory over the Bearcats, securing their first Big 12 win. The sense of accomplishment was palpable, as the Knights had invested countless hours of dedication and hard work, both on and off the field.

“A lot of work goes into what we do,” Plumlee acknowledged. “Countless hours up at the facility with coaches. They work their butts off, too. So, we really, really try to enjoy wins because, man, they’re fun.”

Despite surrendering 515 yards of total offense, including 248 rushing yards to the Bearcats (2-7, 0-6 Big 12), the Knights (4-5, 1-5) managed to hand their former American Athletic Conference rivals their sixth consecutive loss. This victory was particularly significant as it marked UCF’s first Big 12 win since joining the conference.

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Both UCF and Cincinnati are newcomers to the Big 12, and the game was a symbolic showdown between familiar foes. It had been six years since UCF last tasted victory in Cincinnati.

“Making the move with them to the Big 12, there was a little bit of … I wouldn’t say extra, but we know these guys, right? We’ve played them every year,” Plumlee explained. “So, we really wanted to put on a good showing, and we did enough to win tonight.”

RJ Harvey, the standout running back for the Knights, had a career night, rushing for three touchdowns and accumulating a career-high 164 yards on 20 carries. His 1-yard touchdown run with 2:41 left to play was a pivotal moment, giving UCF a 28-20 lead. The touchdown capped off a determined nine-play, 75-yard drive.

“I just wanted to do what I could to help the team when I got the ball,” Harvey modestly expressed. “It is a good feeling to get through that stretch and get our first win in this league.”

Cincinnati didn’t go down without a fight. Their quarterback, Emory Jones, orchestrated a quick and dramatic drive, covering 74 yards in just 1:14. Jones’s 19-yard scramble and a spectacular 37-yard pass play to Braden Smith brought them within striking distance. Corey Kiner punched in a touchdown to bring the Bearcats within 28-26 with 1:27 remaining, but a failed two-point conversion attempt preserved UCF’s narrow lead.

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Cincinnati’s night was marred by eight penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction committed by safety Bryon Threats for making contact with an official.

UCF’s win marked a significant moment in their program’s history, not only taking the lead in the all-time series but also keeping their hopes alive for a bowl game.

On the other hand, Cincinnati’s challenging debut season in the Big 12 under first-year coach Scott Satterfield continues, with the Bearcats still searching for their first conference win. Their absence from a bowl game for the first time since 2017 adds to their season’s difficulties.

Looking ahead, UCF returns home to face Oklahoma State on November 11, marking their first-ever meeting with the Cowboys, promising another thrilling chapter in their Big 12 journey.

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UCF Knights

UCF Knights Secure Centerpiece Big Man for 2024-25 Season

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify for 2024-25 season.

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Moustapha Thiam

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify, making him eligible to play for the Knights this coming college basketball season.

Thiam, the No.1 center in ESPN’s class of 2025, will anchor the Knights’ defense in their second season in the Big 12.

The 7-foot-2 Senegalese impressed scouts with his terrific play at the Adidas 3SSB circuit, serving as the focal point of Austin Rivers SE Elite in the tournament. In 28 minutes per game, he averaged 5.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 1.0 steals.

 

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With Thiam joining a roster of seniors and promising young players, Johnny Dawkins’ UCF Knights is expected to outperform their surprising 7-11 record in their Big 12 debut last season.

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UCF has retained the service of Jaylin Sellers and Darius Johnson, the two top-scorers from last season, and secured commitments from a slew of transferees such as JJ Taylor and Mikey Williams from Memphis, Keyshawn Hall from George Mason, and Deebo Coleman from Georgia Tech.

The program has successfully recruited Cameron Simpson, a local standout from Oak Ridge in Orlando, Florida.

Scouting Report Provides Things to Expect from Moustapha Thiam

Moustapha Thiam is an enticing prospect because of his large 7-foot-2 size, impressive length, and quick-twitch movement.

As a true center, he can open his hips, glide laterally, and recover from switches.

While he has to gain muscle, especially considering his slight foundation and narrow shoulders, he is an excellent rim protector who can influence ball movement and play from the weak side.

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Thiam possesses a nice touch for pick-and-pop jumpers with his feet set and good hands for passes at chest level or higher.

As he continues to develop in each game, he will improve his decision-making skills. His size and physical tools set him apart from his contemporaries.

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Building Relationships with the Community: Gus Malzahn Winning Strategy

Tramayne Wright

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Coach Lo discusses how Gus Malzahn identifies the key figures within the local community in Central Florida.

 

Gus Malzahn had a vision. He saw the potential in the local sports scene and knew he had to seize the opportunity. Coach Lo Wood vividly remembers the strategic move that set Malzahn apart: reaching out to key figures in the community.

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“The first thing I recognized about Gus was how he instantly reached out to the guys in the community,” Coach Wood shared. “He called me up and said, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ And it wasn’t just talk. Gus meant it. He wanted to build something real.”

Mazzone’s approach wasn’t just about forming superficial connections. He sought out genuine relationships with influential community members. Soon, other notable figures like AG Waseem and Ellis Danley were echoing the same sentiment. “Next thing you know, there’s AG Waseem saying the same thing, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ Then he calls Ellis Danley with the same message. It was clear that Gus was building a network of trust and cooperation,” Coach Wood explained.

These were not random choices. The individuals Malzahn reached out to were deeply embedded in the community, and respected for their roles and commitment to the local youth. “Who are all these guys he’s been in a relationship with?” Coach Wood asked. “They’re the guys from the community, the ones who have the kids with them every day. They’re the mentors, the coaches, the father figures.”

Malzahn vision was to ensure that talented athletes didn’t feel the need to leave their hometown to find success. “I knew right then that a lot of athletes were going to stay home and be hometown heroes,” Coach Wood stated. “That’s the way to do it.”

He elaborated on the significance of this approach. “When you have someone like Gus, who invests in the community and builds these relationships, it creates a support system for the kids. They see that they can achieve their dreams right here, with the people who have always been there for them. It’s about pride, it’s about belonging, and it’s about giving back.”

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Coach Wood believes this method will have a lasting impact. “What Gus is doing isn’t just about winning games. It’s about building character, fostering community spirit, and creating a legacy. These kids are not just athletes; they’re future leaders, and Gus is showing them that they can lead from their own backyard.”

Malzahn efforts are not just about creating successful athletes; they are about nurturing future leaders who can lead from their own community. By building a strong foundation within the local sports scene, Gus Malzahn is making a lasting impact that will benefit the community for generations to come.

 

 

Coach Lo talks about The Importance of Building a Strong Community for the UCF Knights

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UCF Knights

UCF Football Set for Black Friday Showdown with Utah Utes on Nov. 29

UCF Football announced the date of their Black Friday football game against the Utah Utes.

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UU vs. UCF

UCF Football announced the date of their Black Friday football game against the Utah Utes.

Fox Sports will broadcast the Knights’ final regular-season match on their 2024 college football schedule on November 29 from the FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

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The Knights had a solid run during their maiden season in their new league, finishing with 3-6 Big 12 record and 6-7 overall.

UCF won their first three games against Kent State, Boise State, and Villanova before pulling off a signature upset win over the No.15 ranked Oklahoma State, 45-3, last November 11.

Expectations are high for the Knights this coming season after securing the service of two-time Bowl Games MVP KJ Jefferson. The quarterback spent his first five years in Arkansas, setting most of the passing records for the Razorbacks.

UCF also bolstered other areas of their offense following the transfer of elite running back Peny Boone from Maryland and wide receiver Agiye Hall from Texas.

The Knights’ Black Friday game opponent, Utah, will debut in the Big 12 this season after capping their Pac 12 run with an 8-5 season (5-4 conference).

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UCF Football will kick off their second season in the Big 12 on August 29 against New Hampshire at home field.

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