Both UCF and Pitt fought to gain momentum at the game opening Saturday afternoon but it would be UCF who overcame deep in the first quarter to take a lead.
Milton passed to Killins for a 64-yard gain to take it to the 5-yard line, tripping up against Pitt safeties in the Red Zone, feet from the House. After getting stuffed at the line by the Pitt defense on a QB keeper, Milton ran for try two against the D-line and made a stretch for the end zone for six points and his 71st career touchdown (responsible for).
The career milestone tied 4th in UCF Football with alumnus Blake Bortes, the only other quarterback to lead the team to a New Year’s Six bowl aside from Milton. McKenzie soon broke that record to become 4th all-time in passing touchdowns.
Milton made it a two-score game after a first quarter 1:44 drive and touchdown pass to Gabe Davis in the end zone. The Knights defense picked up where they left off and dismantled Pitt QB Kenny Pickett with a one-on-one sack at the Panther’s 8-yard line to make it second and long, forcing them to punt two plays later.
The Panthers returned with an 85-yard touchdown, the first against UCF since 2012. Their score improved 7-14 minutes into the game – it would be their only score of the game.
The Heisman hopeful earned his second rushing touchdown only ten seconds after the second quarter opened and in two more successful tries, Milton finished the half with four touchdowns responsible for – an easy chip to Columbiale at the third-yard line to close the second quarter.
The UCF defense had its bad moments Saturday but for certain we can say Randy Shannon delivered against Pitt – no Panther made it to the end zone on offense in the first three quarters. Pitt suffered from short unsuccessful drives while getting stuff at the line or playing for a loss and an adrenaline start sank quickly in the 98-degree heat index.
Milton did, however, escape interceptions twice on opponent penalties through the game which undoubtedly would have led to scoring drives from Pittsburgh. In 2017, McKenzie threw 9 interceptions, filling a third of that statistic in just the first two games of 2018. The quarterback recovered each time but interceptions remain a small Achille’s Heel.
A 71-yard touchdown pass saw Killins sprint down the field with Pitt safeties long in tow. It would be Milton’s 11th career 300 passing yard game. The last scoring drive of the day came from Milton to Otis Anderson to make it 45-14.
Next up is SMU (1-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Stay tuned with Knight News for more UCF Football.