Jackie Williams

Defenses come to play as UCF leads Houston 7-6 at halftime

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Prior to Thursday’s meeting, the Houston Cougars and UCF Knights combined to average 56.5 points per game. Of course, a defensive skirmish ensued during the first half.

The Knights lead 7-6 after two quarters of play

In today’s college football landscape, it’s odd not seeing two teams easily march up and down the field on offense. Yet, neither team managed to reach 150 yards of total offense in the first half. Houston actually gained more yards with 143, but UCF was up to the task in the red-zone.

The key moment came when the Cougars drove the ball to UCF’s one-foot line. On 4th-and-goal, Cougars quarterback John O’Korn attempted a back-shoulder fade to wide receiver Deontay Greenberry. The pass fell incomplete, and UCF took over on downs.

Even the game’s lone touchdown was set up by UCF’s defense. Knights safety Clayton Geathers read O’Korn’s eyes, drove on an underneath route to cut off the intended pass and ended up with an interception. With the ball at Houston’s 25-yard line, the Knights were in business.

Five plays later, UCF quarterback Justin Holman found receiver Jackie Williams open in the end-zone. Ironically, the Cougars had a safety covering over the top and a linebacker underneath the slant route, yet neither defender was able to identify the football to make a play before Williams ensnared the pass.

Neither quarterback proved to be efficient. Both teams should turn to their running games in the second half to finally get on track. The Knights should also receive a boost from wide receiver Rannell Hall, who missed the first half after a unnecessary roughness penalty last weekend. But UCF is expected to be without a reliable target in J.J. Worton, who left the game in the second quarter due to a rib injury.

Both these defenses have been stingy through two quarters, but both offenses are bound to play better in the second half after poor starts to the game.