No. 21 UCF (1-0, 1-0 AAC) had little trouble turning the page on a new season with a new head coach. Quarterback Mckenzie Milton opened the season by throwing for 346 yards and five touchdowns as the defending AAC champions blasted UConn (0-1, 0-1 AAC) by a score of 56-17 on Thursday night.
UCF head coach Josh Heupel saw his team score two touchdowns in each quarter to earn his first head coaching victory as the Huskies were simply no match for the Knights. UCF’s offense rolled up over 600 yards on their hosts, including 272 yards on the ground as a team.
UConn quarterback David Pindell was intercepted once, but had a solid enough effort to suggest he could be a fun player to watch this season. Pindell completed 27-of-41 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown and he rushed for 157 yards and a score. Pindell will likely be picking up some big numbers as the season continues, and not every opponent UConn faces will be as stacked as UCF.
UCF wide receiver Tre Nixon caught five passes from Milton for 101 yards and two scores. In all, 10 UCF players caught a pass from either Milton or backup Darriel Mack Jr.
UCF’s defense did give up 486 yards, but the Knights also forced three turnovers while the offense never let go of the football.
The game actually got started on a somber note, when UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson was injured on the opening kickoff of the game. He was attended to by medics and trainers on the field for about 10 minutes before being carted off on a stretcher. There has been no update on his status, but he did have motion in his legs and gave a thumbs up as he came off the field on the cart.
UCF will play their home opener next week with a game against FCS South Carolina State. UConn will be on the road in Week 2 to take on another Group of Five heavyweight, No. 22 Boise State.
After a scary moment on the opening kickoff, it has been business as usual for UCF in the first half of the season. McKenzie Milton has thrown three touchdowns and the defending AAC champions are up 28-10 on the road at UConn at halftime.
Special teams player and backup cornerback Aaron Robinson was carted off the field on a stretcher after suffering a severe injury on the game’s opening kickoff. He did have movement in his legs and managed to give a thumbs up as he was taken off the field, but the game was forced to pause for about 10 minutes just after it got started in order to properly take care of the injured Robinson.
Milton has completed 13 of 16 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns. He is also UCF’s leading rusher with 50 yards on the ground.
UCF scored touchdowns on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. UConn fumbled away the opening possession on the sixth play of the game, and the Huskies were held to a three-and-out on their second offensive series. After UConn kicked a field goal to put some points on the board, UCF answered with a four-play, 76-yard touchdown drive capped by Milton’s second touchdown pass of the night, this one to Gabriel Davis from 10 yards out.
Earlier, Milton threw a 34-yard pass to Tre Nixon while rolling to his right to put the Knights up 14-0.
Down 21-3, UConn strung together a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a David Pindell pass to Tyler Davis for five yards and a score. Pindell is the game’s leading rusher with 92 yards on 12 carries. The Huskies just have not been able to keep up the pace against UCF through one half. They have quite an uphill battle to climb at home in the second half if UConn is going to give UCF a fight.
The Shea Patterson ruling cracked the door. Thursday, Thomas Mars‘ righteous tenacity kicked the door wide open for his remaining clients.
Throughout the evening, it was confirmed that five players who had transferred from Ole Miss in the midst of sanctions levied on the football program had been granted a waiver by the NCAA that allows them to compete immediately at their new schools. The quintet impacted by today’s confirmations include defensive back Deontay Anderson (Houston), offensive tackle Jack DeFoor (Georgia Tech), Breon Dixon (Nebraska), wide receiver Tre Nixon (UCF) and linebacker Jarrion Street (UAB).
All of those players were 2016 signees who will have three years of eligibility remaining, and all five will likely contribute to their new teams immediately in 2018.
The Patterson decision, announced late last month and which granted him immediate eligibility at Michigan, came after the quarterback’s new school and his old school, Ole Miss, “worked together over the last several days in conjunction with the NCAA national office staff, and with a focus on the best interest of the student-athlete, to put forward a new waiver application.” That resolution certainly paved the way for these collective decisions less than two weeks later, and decisions that were the absolute correct ones for the student-athletes involved.