The Knights stifled a 4th quarter comeback by the UTEP Miners last night to improve to 8-2 on the season and 6-0 within Conference USA, the first 6-0 start since the 2007 season.
Quarterback Blake Bortles scored three touchdowns on the day, two on the ground and one through the air, totaling 23 scores on the year. He was efficiently effective as well, passing for 214 yards without an interception.
Latavius Murray led the UCF rushing attack with 117 yards and a touchdown, his fourth straight game with over a hundred rushing yards.
The Knights struck first in the first quarter when Blake Bortles completed the game’s only touchdown pass, a 46 yard bomb, to Jeff Godfrey to put his team up 7-0. The momentum continued through the first half, even after letting the Miners score the next ten unanswered points to put the UCF down 10-7.
The conference’s number one ranked defense forced four turnovers on the day and came up big in the second quarter, completing a goal line stand after UTEP blocked a Knights punt and set up shop at the one yard line. A fumble recovery by Troy Davis with under 30 seconds left in the first half allowed UCF to set up for a last minute field goal and head into the half with a 17-10 lead.
The defense continued to keep the Miners in check through the third quarter, not allowing any points until after UCF had scored on a 4 play, 71 yard drive to kick off the fourth quarter.
Bortles had done much of the damage himself that drive, completing two passes for 59 yards and diving into the end zone after a 10 yard run to finish with a touchdown. The first of the completions was good for 56 yards and came on a double reverse handoff that began with a handoff to Quincy McDuffie before he pitched it to Bortles.
The Miners responded to a 24-10 Knights lead with back to back touchdown drives.
The first was a 10 play, 79 yard drive that ate up just over five minutes of the clock, and the second was a single 69 yard rush by Nathan Jeffrey that kept the Knights defense on the field for a mere ten seconds.
Not to be outdone, Latavius Murray broke off an explosive run of his own with under six minutes left in the game, exploding for a 46 yard touchdown run. The score was the final of the game and allowed UCF to grind out the last few minutes of the game and hold on to the one score lead for a 31-24 victory.
With UTEP (2-8) in the review mirror, UCF (8-2) will travel to Oklahoma next weekend to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (8-2) on Saturday, November 17. Tulsa is coming off of a 41-7 victory and holds first place in the Conference USA West Division, matching the Knights record and standing in the East Division.