ANNAPOLIS – UCF clawed, scratched and won a war of attrition in Maryland’s capital on Saturday, beating the Navy Midshipmen 31-21 in an uncharacteristically tough game for the Knights.
“It was just a lot of fun,” said quarterback McKenzie Milton about the life-shortening stress. “It was a lot of fun coming into a hostile environment and getting a big win. Navy is always going to keep battling, so we knew we probably would have to fight until the end and it was a big win.”
In a game where Navy’s offensive clock control weighed heavy on UCF’s chances to score, Adrian Killins, Otis Anderson and Brandon Moore stepped in to save the day.
Killins responded to Navy’s explosive 75 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at the start of the third quarter with a 79-yard jaunt down the sideline, collapsing the lungs of the Midshipman faithful. He finished the day with 122 yards and two scores on the ground.
“He’s an eraser. He erased a tie game and made it a seven-point lead,” said Head Coach Scott Frost.
“You know, you get into a close game and you really need some heart. You need to play together you need to have guys that are going to make plays when the game is on the line.”
Adrian briefly left the game in one of the strangest football maladies of all time after the score; he collided with the Navy goat that stands ever vigilant on the sideline.
One more time: He was hit going out of bounds, and had to leave the game after a goat-on-athlete collision.
Brandon Moore, who is facing the real possibility of significantly reduced playing time as Nevelle Clarke returns to the team next week, put on a show in Annapolis. Moore notched two tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups and an interception to effectively end the game.
“Bam just wrecked the kid,” said linebacker Pat Jasinski about the forced fumble.
A shot heard ‘round the world, Moore’s fumble recovery came on the heels of McKenzie Milton’s biggest mistake of the game, an interception across the middle with plenty of time for Navy to seize control of the game.
Otis Anderson laid the hammer down on Navy’s coffin. He had an incredible all-around day, totaling a score and 103 all-purpose yards, but it was the timing of his first career touchdown that made the difference. Anderson scored UCF’s only fourth quarter touchdown on a ten-yard run with just 3:30 left on the clock to set the final score at 31-21.
This was the first time that UCF has truly been tested. McKenzie Milton said that there was no panic and that the team was confident throughout, but Coach Frost admitted after the game that he felt like he had some time taken off his life after the win.
UCF came, saw, and certainly didn’t conquer. They did come away with their sixth win, they did keep the magic alive, and they did remove themselves from the most unique offensive system they will face this season.
“Sometimes you win and it’s easy, sometimes you have to battle,” said Frost. “Sometimes it’s not as pretty, but a win is a win. I love how this team kept fighting, I love how they’re playing together right now.”
It just didn’t come easy this time.