The fans in Cincinnati could not be held back this Friday night at the Nippert Stadium as over 4,000 students rushed the field to triumph with the Bearcats in their 27-24 victory over the UCF Knights. The Knights have just been ranked at No.18, moving up 4 spots in the AP-polls but fall to number 3 seat in the American Athletic Conference Eastern Division after another tough loss on the road. UCF have lost two games so far this season but are 1-1 in their conference.
UC win their 3rd straight since being left scoreless by Ohio State in a blow-out match 42-0 on September 7th and are currently number one in the Conference.
The Knights failed to cash in after dominating in total yards in the first half and starting quarterback, Dillion Gabriel, had three interceptions and threw for 297 yards and went 25/46. UCs’ defense held off the Knights in the Red zone early in the half when the Knights could have pulled away. UCF found themselves inside the Bearcat’s RedZone but could only come away with one touchdown and 16 points to take them into a 16-10 halftime lead.
“Early in the football game, we had multiple opportunities in the first quarter, and we came away with three points. That can and it did come back to haunt us tonight,” expressed Knights head coach Josh Heupel. “opportunities were wasted and points were there to be had and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
Knights WR Gabriel Davis proved to be Dillions favorite target as he had over 9 touches and completed over 100 yards with a 45-yard TD run in the first half. Davis is known to be one of the best wide receivers in the Eastern Conference, but the Bearcats cornerbacks caught on in the 4th quarter and had two major saves stripping Davis of the ball in the final minutes to stop Davis from scoring.
All good things must come to an end as the Knights drop the ball on multiple streaks that have kept them in the conversation as National contenders. UC snapped the Knights 17 straight conference win which was the longest streak in FBS. The Knights also failed to score 30 plus points for the first time in 31 straight games which was the longest streak in the AP Poll Era. Cincinnati win for the first time since 2009 versus No.14 Pittsburg after losing 13-straight against an AP-ranked opponent not including conference title games.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed in the result, but I am proud of how the guys competed. They never gave up and they competed fiercely to the end,” stated Heupel. “We didn’t do enough to win the football game today.”
The last time the Knights loss two games in a single season was in 2016 and UCF now find themselves in a race trailing Cincinnati in the AAC East division with the Bearcats holding the tie-breaker.
The Knights kept hope towards the end the 4th quarter as Trey Nixon caught Dillion Gabriel’s pass on the 40-yard line and ran it in untouched to score. UCF went for the 2-point conversion with a fake to Adrian Kilian’s who was left open in the end zone for an easy finish to leave the Knights a field goal away from forcing the game into overtime. Cincinnati was left on 4th an inches with 1 minute left on the clock and to no ones surprise head coach for the Bearcats, Luke Fickell, went for it winning the game. This marked Fickell’s first University of Cincinnati football signature win and ended the Knights 19-game AAC winning streak in front of a sold-out crowd at the Nippert Stadium.
“What an incredible night, not just for us as a football program,” Fickell said. “it means the world”
UCF Knights: The Knights have a bi-week to recuperate from a tough loss on the road and will be back at home to the Spectrum Stadium October 19th against The East Carolina pirates who are 3-3.
Cincinnati Bearcats: Plays in Houston(2-3) on October 12th.