ATLANTA, Ga. – The Knights capped off their perfect season with a 34-27 win over the Auburn Tigers. The offense has been the focal point of this team all year, but today it was their defense that led to the Knights to victory.
The offense struggled early in this game, McKenzie Milton was 3-17 for 30 yards through the air in the first half. He also lost a fumble that was recovered by the Tigers and taken deep into UCF territory.
“Yeah, you know, we kind of came out sleepwalking, throwing the ball in the air. I don’t know if it was the big lights or the big Jumbotron,” McKenzie Milton said jokingly about his first-half struggles.
Luckily the defense played an unbelievable game, which kept the game close while Milton got used to his surroundings. They made it very difficult on Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham. They sacked the Auburn QB 6 times, also adding in another 5 tackles for loss.
“I heard recently that the quarterback wasn’t getting sacked that much this year. I think we had a thousand sacks today, so, I mean, I guess we did something right,” Shaquem Griffin said about the success of his defensive line.
The team also came up with three timely turnovers. They intercepted Jarrett Stidham twice and forced one fumble. Five-year senior Chequan Burkett took an interception to the house with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, giving the Knights a 2-touchdown lead. Later in the fourth quarter, Antwan Collier intercepted a ball in the end zone sealing the Knights undefeated season.
“Chequan Burkett getting a pick-six, didn’t know if we were going to have him this year, and he pulled that off,” McKenzie Milton talked about the value Chequan Burkett’s huge moment.
The real hero of this game was Shaquem Griffin. He had a phenomenal game, and deservedly won defensive player of the game. Griffin had 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3.5 tackles for loss.
“This guy over here was playing like his dreadlocks were on fire today. Every time I looked up, he was running somebody down and making a play and making a sack,” Coach Frost said about Griffin’s fantastic day.
Shaquem Griffin is the face of this team, the national media ate him up this year, and he didn’t disappoint today. He leads this team day in and day out. Today he had The Knights fired up from the start of the game and led them to a victory.
Coach Frost was later was asked about his stars linebackers chances at the next level, this is how he responded.
“Yes, whoever gets him is going to be lucky. Listen, I had some crackpot dynamite reporter from Auburn at the first press conference ask me how in the heck we are going to possibly throw the ball when they keep a lid on their coverage, and who’s the best pass rusher you’ve ever played against and how are you going to stop number. This is the best pass rush that offense has played against. This guy is unbelievable. One hand, two hands, two feet, three feet, I don’t care, I want him on my team and whatever team drafts him is going to be lucky to have him.”
The defensive performance was the main question mark going into today’s game. With the performance they had, there should be no doubt this team could compete with anyone. They dominated the trenches against an elite offensive line, and now have the respect of the whole country.