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The Knight offense looked unstoppable from the opening snap as the Knights drove 75 yards down the field to get their first opening-drive score to start a season since 2007 when Kevin Smith ran 80 yards from scrimmage on the opening play against N.C. State.
Biggest winners in the first half: Rob Calabrese, Chris Gainous
Calabrese was 9-for-9 with 140 yards and a touchdown in the first half and looked like a new quarterback. He was fluid, seemed comfortable in the pocket and didn’t make a single mistake. He managed the game well and continued to find his receivers. Credit his offense line as well, who gave him tons of time to make decisions.
As for South Dakota, Chris Gainous was the first-half winner. He torched the Knights on the ground and showed how vulnerable they are on the inside tackles with 73 yards on 10 attempts and a touchdown through the first half. His legs will continue to be counted on for the Coyotes to have a chance to get back into the game.
Biggest losers of the first half: Victor Gray/E.J. Dunston, South Dakota linebackers
The Knights showed just how young they are inside as Gray and Dunston struggled to contain Gainous on the ground. He continually ran through holes in the defense as the two freshman were dominated inside by South Dakota’s offensive line.
As for the Coyotes linebacking core, they were abused by Davis and Calabrese. The two make plays and were able to get to the second wave of defensive players.
Biggest play of the first half: Overturned fumble
That could have been the momentum right there. UCF was up by a touchdown and if South Dakota hadn’t been offsides then they would have had a chance to even up the score.
Overall, the Knights are looking good. On offense, this is just what George O’Leary wanted. He couldn’t have written it better. Calabrese is shining and Davis is running like Harvey. Both look like all stars on the field. As for his defense, O’Leary will take just one score, but they must find an answer for Gainous if they want to continue to cruise in this game.