UCF open American Athletic Conference play with win over ECU
Produced by Bryce Brimhall
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GREENVILLE, N.C. — Justin Holman got the start at quarterback for UCF but it was Dontravious Wilson’s 73 yards and two touchdowns that helped give the Knights a 47-29 win over ECU in their American Athletic Conference opener on Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Wilson scored UCF’s first offensive touchdown with a 35-yard run into the end zone late in the second quarter that put the Knights ahead 16-7. Wilson’s rushing score came 56 seconds after UCF took a 9-7 lead by recording a safety when the defense stopped Devin Anderson in the end zone.
“Dontravious and that whole group are unselfish, when they get their chances they capitalize on them…” said UCF head coach Scott Frost in reference to his stable of running backs. “Any of those guys can get yards and Dontravious has had two great weeks in a row.”
Jawon Hamilton extended the Knights lead to 23-7 when he scored his first touchdown of the season with a two-yard rush up the middle. The Hamilton touchdown was set up after the UCF defense forced a three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half and then used a 33-yard completion from Holman to Jordan Franks to set up the Hamilton score.
The Hamilton touchdown drive took two plays and laster 28 seconds. UCF scored all of their offensive touchdowns on drives that lasted 56 seconds or less.
ECU would go on to score 14 unanswered points to cut UCF’s lead to 23-21, but that’s as close as the Pirates would get as UCF would go on to score on another Wilson touchdown run and then added another seven points when offensive lineman Brendon Hayes intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it to the end zone to put UCF up 37-21.
Wilson rushed for 73 yards for the game to go along with his two touchdowns. Adrian Killins also had a big game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that put UCF on the scoreboard early in the second quarter.
“When I was running I heard the crowd, they weren’t so happy, the crowd was pretty dead when we scored that touchdown,” said Killins of his first career kick return touchdown. “It was a silent killer, it set the deal for us to get some points on the board first and it was a great feeling.”
With UCF recording a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams; it marks the first time the Knights have scored in all three phases of the game since November 20, 2010 against Tulane.
Holman received word that he would start at quarterback against ECU the day of the game; after the Knights opted to start freshman McKenzie Milton the past two weeks after Holman sustained an injury at Michigan in Week 2.
“We didn’t know going into the game who was going to play,” said Frost of his choice to play Holman at quarterback. “Justin’s coming back off a hamstring, McKenzie is a little beat up, we were going to go with whose healthy,
“Justin did a great job coming in and getting us a win today.”
The senior quarterback finished the game 11-29 for 156 yards passing and threw two interception, while rushing for 29 yards. Holman did make some big throws to put UCF in good field position, but on multiple occasions he missed open receivers and failed to hit his man in stride.
With the win UCF now improve to 3-2, putting the Knights over .500 for the first time since 2014. The victory also gives UCF a 1-0 record in conference play going into a Week 6 matchup against Tulane.
“We’ve got a quick week,” said Frost. “So we’ve got to get everything we need to get done for our game done in one less day this week. Our guys I know will tackle that because everything we’ve asked them to do, they’ve done.”
UCF will return home next week to take on Tulane in a Friday night matchup at Bright House Networks Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. with the game being televised on ESPN2 or ESPNU.