Special Teams Atrocious for UCF, as Knights loss Cure Bowl

Knights Fall To Arkansas State In Cure Bowl

UCF Knights got off to a rough start in the Cure bowl and was down 17-0 in the first quarter against Arkansas State which led to them losing the game 31-13.

At around the 12 minute mark in the first quarter, UCF was deep in their red-zone and gave up a blocked punt that resulted in a Touchdown by Arkansas State and gave them a seven point game.

Then, after giving up a field goal, UCF’s Hayden Jones fumbles the ball on the kickoff return and gave great field position for Arkansas and then countered by getting another Touchdown to make the score 17-0.

They also kicked the ball out of bounds on the kickoff which set off a penalty and to cap off the miscues on special teams, they fumbled the ball on a punt toward the end of the third quarter and that set up another Arkansas State Touchdown.

“Only three?” says Coach Frost on the miscues of the special teams play. “When it’s a game like that, we knew we had to hit some shots on big plays because we didn’t know we’d be able to sustain drives against their defense. We fumbled a kickoff, we fumbled a punt, we got a punt block. We made the mistakes that got us beat.”

Because of those miscues, Arkansas State scored 21 points and that was the deciding factor of the game. Had the Knights not have those turnovers on special teams, this game would have been a different story and even a different outcome as well. They simply shot themselves in the foot.

“This game, we just shot ourselves in the foot,” says Coach Frost. “I’m not taking nothing away from them (Arkansas State), there a well-coached and good team, but we started the game with one of our kick return guys helmet was broken and he had to come off the field and somebody else ran in for him and then we had two guys on the field with same number. The whole game started that way and we made mistakes that you can’t make if you’re playing a good football team.”

On the offensive side of the ball, they could not get their running game going as they had 30 rush attempts for 12 yards on the night. Quarter back McKenzie Milton had 39 pass attempts before the start of the fourth quarter and he’s a freshman. Some of the throws he made was pretty bad, some on him but also some because he was literally running for his life at times.

“We’re never making excuses, we’re beat up.” Coach Frost says, “Especially up front on the offensive line. I don’t think that was a unit where we started with a ton of depth and we’re playing some young guys but we carried the ball 30 times for 12 yards. We got to be better than that.”

Defensively, they gave up a couple of big plays, including one in the first half where Arkansas State’s Blake Mack was wide open off a blown coverage and gained 67 yards and in the beginning of the second half when Kendall Marshall broke loose for a 75 yard score which was the biggest play in Cure Bowl history but other than that, the defense was put in bad situations for the whole game and that’s not on them.

Coach Frost after the game in his opening statement was still proud of his guys regardless of win or lose, “I’m proud of our team and our guys. Nobody hates losing more than me except maybe Rucker but what this team has accomplished, I’m proud of them, happy for them and I’m hungry to accomplish more.”

The Knights season officially end on a sour note but will have more to look forward to in the future as they have a bright future, with a young team who will be back and better than ever and will have bigger goals in mind. So buckle up your seat belts and get ready for the ride as the Knights will be back better than ever.

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Anthony Abruzzo is a sports writer that covers the UCF Men's Basketball team. He is currently a student at UCF as well.