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UCF’s Battle in Texas Tech: A Close Call Gone Bad

Tramayne Wright

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In a quest for bowl eligibility, UCF football fell short against Texas Tech with a score of 24-23 on Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium, despite amassing more offensive yards and limiting the Red Raiders to just three successful third-down conversions out of nine attempts.

In this clash, the Red Raiders (6-5 overall, 5-3 Big 12) secured their sixth season win, leaving the Knights (5-6, 2-6) with another opportunity to prove themselves next weekend at home against Houston.

UCF’s offensive juggernaut racked up 487 yards, surpassing Texas Tech’s 446 yards, marking the eighth instance this season that the Black and Gold eclipsed the 400-yard mark. On the defensive front, the Knights held firm against one of the conference’s top offenses, keeping Texas Tech scoreless in the first quarter and limiting them to 10 points in the second half.

Expressing his disappointment, UCF head coach Gus Malzahn remarked, “There are a couple of things that stand out, obviously not scoring before halftime, which was a tough deal. We missed a field goal and had a blocked extra point when we had the momentum, which we haven’t had all year, so that was tough.”

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“Defensively, we battled all day. Overall, it’s a disappointing loss, and now we have to go back home and try to find a way to win against Houston to become bowl eligible.”

With 6:13 remaining in the game and trailing 24-17, UCF needed a score, and the offense delivered. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee connected with wide receiver Javon Baker for a spectacular 71-yard touchdown. Attempting to even the score at 24, Texas Tech’s defensive front blocked Colton Boomer’s PAT attempt, maintaining the Red Raiders’ slim lead at 24-23.

From there, Texas Tech relied on running back Tahj Brooks, ranked fifth nationally in rushing yards, to secure crucial first downs and run out the clock, clinching the one-point victory.

Statistically, UCF rushed for 238 yards and passed for 241 yards, while Texas Tech logged 190 rushing yards and 256 passing yards. Despite holding a time of possession advantage (31:57 to 28:03) and converting 9 of 15 third-down attempts, the Knights fell short of converting these stats into a victory.

In a unique occurrence this season, UCF scored a touchdown on its opening possession for the fifth time, this being the first on the road. RJ Harvey found the end zone with a four-yard rushing touchdown.

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On a critical fourth down and three on the Texas Tech 28-yard line, UCF executed a successful fake field goal, extending the drive. Harvey scored from the one-yard line, pushing the Knights’ lead to 14-0.

Texas Tech responded with a touchdown-scoring drive, narrowing the margin to 14-7. After a UCF punt, Tech evened the score at 14-14.

Despite a strong drive, UCF couldn’t score before halftime, and the teams entered the break tied at 14.

In the third quarter, the teams traded punts before a Nikai Martinez interception halted Texas Tech’s drive. The Knights sought to convert the turnover into points but missed a 32-yard field goal attempt.

Brooks broke free for a 13-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, giving Tech a 21-14 lead. UCF responded with a field goal, cutting the margin to 21-17.

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Plumlee passed for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Morton passed for 246 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Harvey’s streak of five straight games with at least 100 yards rushing came to an end as Texas Tech held him to 78 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns.

Baker had four catches for 118 yards with a touchdown, while Townsend had four receptions for 38 yards, and Hudson recorded two catches for 52 yards.

Defensively, Walter Yates led the Knights with nine tackles, all solo, while Jason Johnson added eight. Texas Tech linebacker Jacob Rodriguez was the leading tackler in the game with 12 stops, including seven solo.

UCF will return to action next weekend for its Senior Knight against Houston, with kickoff set for noon at FBC Mortgage Stadium on FS1.

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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 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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