The UCF Knights held the Florida A&M Rattlers to 62 unanswered points, 96 total yards and eight first downs on Thursday, but the season-opening shutout at Spectrum Stadium was a season-ending game for starting cornerback Brandon Moore.
Late in the third quarter, as the Knights were up 55-0, Moore ran with what looked to be an intercepted pass from the FAMU quarterback but was tackled out of bounds near the 30-yard line.
The tackle caused the redshirt junior to sustain a knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season, according to a UCF Football tweet on Monday.
“We want to be happy we got the win, got the shutout. But at the end of the day we lost a huge part of our defense and one of our brothers,” UCF redshirt junior defensive lineman Kenny Turnier said. “We’re going to play for him for the rest of the season, for sure. For sure. We will.”
UCF head coach Josh Heupel said Moore and a few starters on the defensive line were still on the field while the Knights were up by 55 because he had a play count he was looking to meet. He said although the goal had not been met, “they were getting pretty close.”
Moore’s teammates raced to the FAMU sideline where he stayed down for several minutes as the medical staff and team gathered. UCF junior wide receiver Gabriel Davis, who grew up with Moore in Sanford, Florida, was one of the first to rush over.
“That’s the last person I want to see go down on the field,” Davis said after Thursday’s game. “The things he’s been through all of his life, things he wants to accomplish, you know, goals he wants to achieve — and just to see something like that happen to him, that’s just the last person I want to see that happen to. It’s just so heartbreaking to see a brother like that
“We’re a family. We’re a brotherhood,” Davis said. “We love each other, and we care about each other … no one wants to see something like that happen, especially to a person like him. It just hurts.”
Davis said he is happy the team won but said it hurts and takes away from the team’s victory when his friend is in pain. Davis said Moore had personal plans and goals he intended to achieve this season said it is unfortunate this injury happened during the first game.
Knight Nation showed Moore its support as he left the stadium and continues to show support through social media.
Through adversity, Moore has shown he is up for the challenge.
After the LSU Tigers defeated the Knights 40-32 in the 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl — ending UCF’s 25-game winning streak — Moore was approached by a young LSU fan who congratulated Moore on a great season. “I know I’m not your team but I wanted to give you my gloves,” Moore said, before the two hugged.
Following Thursday’s game, Heupel said he loves Moore and is devastated this happened to him.
“Players and coaches need to get around him,” he said. “There’s not a better kid in our program.”
Moore took to his personal Instagram account on Sunday to thank everyone for their prayers and to send a message to his teammates to “finish the mission.”
“There’s a lot of guys that are heartbroken in there — there’s tears,” Heupel said. “That’s one of their brothers and I’m not just talking about the defense side of the ball, I’m talking about our entire football team.”
Heupel said Moore is not just a special player, but a special person that so many people are passionate about. He said Moore has gone through a lot in his personal life and still continues to grow, and said he is really proud of him for that.
“Unfortunately, he’s got another mountain to climb right now,” Heupel said. “Everybody on our football team is going to wrap their arms around him right now and help him through this journey.”
Heupel said with Moore out, multiple guys will be competing for the spot including junior Tay Gowan and redshirt sophomore Zamari Maxwell, both who Heupel said played well through training camp.
The Knights will travel to face the FAU Owls at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida, on Sept. 7 with a 7 p.m. kickoff.