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UCF Knights

Georgia Tech Beat Out UCF in Gasparilla Bowl Comeback

Kevyn Bryant II

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In a thrilling Gasparilla Bowl showdown on Friday night, Georgia Tech emerged victorious against UCF, staging a remarkable comeback from a 14-point deficit to secure a 30-17 win. Haynes King played a pivotal role, showcasing his dual-threat capabilities by throwing a touchdown pass and adding another score on the ground.

Facing adversity early in the game with a 14-0 deficit, Georgia Tech rallied together to regroup and refocus. King, with a stat line of 7 completions on 13 attempts for 87 yards and 89 rushing yards on 12 carries, emphasized the team’s collective resolve. “We’ve been here before. We’re not going to press. Stick to the game plan. Trust each other. Everything else is going to take care of itself,” remarked King.

Jamal Haynes, the game’s MVP, made a significant impact, accumulating 128 rushing yards on 18 carries. His standout performance helped Georgia Tech achieve its first winning season since 2018 and marked him as the Yellow Jackets’ first 1,000-yard runner since 2017. Notably, Haynes transitioned from wide receiver to running back this season.

UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee, completing 16 of 29 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns, faced a tough challenge. Plumlee, playing in his last collegiate game, left the field with 4 minutes to play, replaced by Timmy McClain. Despite UCF’s efforts, Aidan Birr’s 29-yard field goal early in the second half gave Georgia Tech its first lead at 20-17.

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Reflecting on the game, UCF coach Gus Malzahn acknowledged, “We didn’t play good enough to win, really the bottom line.” The Knights, finishing their first Big 12 season at 6-7, fell short in their bid for victory.

Georgia Tech’s King, a red-shirt sophomore, stood out with impressive season stats, joining an elite group with at least 2,700 passing yards, 600 rushing yards, 25 touchdown passes, and five rushing touchdowns. Looking ahead, UCF faces the challenge of replacing Plumlee, but the return of RJ Harvey for his fifth season offers a positive outlook. Harvey’s decision to return follows his seventh 100-yard game of the season.

The game also featured a memorable coin toss moment, with referee Cravonne Barrett initially calling tails before correcting himself.

As the Gasparilla Bowl concluded, the spotlight turned to the future plans of UCF’s Plumlee, a two-sport standout, who hinted at making a decision on playing baseball with UCF in the upcoming season in the coming weeks. The Gasparilla Bowl delivered an exciting clash, marking the end of the college football season with Georgia Tech celebrating a well-earned victory. This will conclude our Knight’s coverage of the season but we are excited for next season. Go Knights!

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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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