Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

UCF Knights Knock Off Gators in Gasparilla Bowl, Have Record Recruiting Class, Look to Big 12

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 19:56


The UCF Knights (9-4; 5-3 AAC) took care of business last Thursday against the Florida Gators (6-7; 2-6 SEC), winning the Gasparilla Bowl 29-17 in Tampa. As reported by the AAC (via AP):

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Isaiah Bowser ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns, Ryan O’Keefe had 85 yards on seven receptions, and UCF earned Sunshine State bragging rights by beating Florida 29-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday night.

UCF (9-4) took a 26-17 lead late in the third when Daniel Obarski made a 21-yard field goal and Mikey Keene threw a 54-yard scoring strike to O’Keefe in the span of about two minutes. Obarski then made it 29-17 on a 33-yarder with 2:41 to play.

Florida quarterback Emory Jones, playing in his final game with the Gators before entering the transfer portal, completed 14 of 36 passes for 171 yards. He also ran for 62 yards on 10 carries.

Florida was led by interim coach Greg Knox, who took over when Dan Mullen was fired before the regular-season finale against Florida State. Former Louisiana coach Billy Napier will take over for the 2022 season. Florida (6-7) finished with its first losing record since 2017.

UCF outgained Florida 436-376. O’Keefe also put up 110 rushing yards, including a 74-yard run in third quarter after which Bowser put UCF up 16-10 with a TD run 4 yards out.

Florida regained the lead, 17-16, on its next possession when Malik Davis had a 19-yard rushing TD.

Florida led 10-9 at halftime thanks to Chris Howard’s 26-yard field goal with 1:36 left in the second quarter.

Keene replaced starting QB Dillon Gabriel, who broke his left collarbone against Louisville in September. The true freshman went 14 of 22 for 144 yards on Thursday.

It was the first time the time the two teams played since Florida won 42-0 during its 2006 national championship season. The Gators also won 58-27 in 1999.

The announced crowd at Raymond James Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was a Gasparilla Bowl record of 63,669.

The Knights also pulled in one of the program’s best recruiting classes ever, ranking 41 nationally. With a 9-4 2021 record (especially given the team’s adversity), a win against Florida, and a move to the Big 12 Conference (probable in 2023), the future has never been brighter for the UCF Knights.

Check out video highlights of the Knights’ win over the Gators in the Gasparilla Bowl, courtesy of ESPN, below:

Monday, December 6, 2021

UCF Knights Best S. Florida, Accept Bowl Bid to Play UF in 2021 Gasparilla Bowl

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:07

The UCF Knights finished their regular season with an 8-4 record on Black Friday after beating rival S. Florida 17-13. UCF ended with a 5-3 record in the American Athletic Conference and finished at #3 in the conference standings behind #2 Houston and #1 Cincinnati. Cincy clenched the #4 national ranking on Sunday, making history as being the first G5 team to ever make the College Football Playoffs. They will face #1 Alabama on New Year’s Eve.

UCF also learned its bowl fate Sunday as well. The Knights will square off against the Florida Gators (6-6; 2-6 SEC) in the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on December 23rd. That game will be nationally-televised on ESPN. Kickoff is set for 7pm. The game is also expected to be the Bowl’s first-ever sell-out, with Knights fans posted to fill more than half the stadium. Check-out highlights of UCF’s Black Friday win over USF below, courtesy of ESPN College Football:

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Knights Destroy UCONN, Look to Black Friday Rivalry Showdown with usf

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:50

Mikey Keene threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns as UCF raced to an early 28-0 lead on its way to a 49-17 win against UConn Saturday at the Bounce House.

Johnny Richardson rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, while Brandon Johnson had seven catches for 125 yards and his American Athletic Conference-leading 10th touchdown of the season.

The UCF defense registered five sacks and forced three turnovers, all on interceptions.

Richardson staked the Knights to an early lead on a 9-yard touchdown run, and Keene followed with a 30-yard keeper for a TD to give UCF a 14-0 cushion only 5:23 into the game.

Mark-Antony Richards made it 21-0 with a touchdown run late in the first quarter, and Keene and Richardson connected for a 17-yard touchdown to start the second period, giving UCF (7-4; 4-3 AAC) a four-touchdown advantage.

Tatum Bethune led the UCF defense with 14 tackles.

UConn quarterback Steven Krajewski went 18-for-42 for 174 yards with three interceptions as the struggling Huskies fell to 1-10.

The Knights now take on their rivals, the usf bulls (2-9; 1-6 AAC), on Black Friday. The game will be nationally-broadcasted on ESPN. Kickoff is at 3:30pm. Check out video highlights of UCF’s win over UCONN, courtesy of the AAC, below:

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

UCF Knights Secure Bowl Eligibility with Homecoming Win Against Tulane, Face Big Challenge at SMU Saturday

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:43

As reported by the AAC:

Brandon Johnson’s 23-yard touchdown reception from Mikey Keene with 5:55 left gave UCF its first lead of the second half and the Knights’ defense came up with a late stop to preserve a 14-10 win against Tulane Saturday afternoon at the Bounce House.

The win was UCF’s third straight victory and kept the Knights unbeaten at their home stadium this season (5-0). 

UCF took a 7-0 lead into halftime, but Tulane added 10 third-quarter points to build a 10-7 advantage on Tyjae Spears’ 8-yard run and a 25-yard field goal by Merek Glover. 

The UCF defense forced Tulane to punt on its next three drives, and the Green Wave ran out of time on its final possession after a 10-play possession stalled at the UCF 39-yard line. 

Keene went 19-for-25 for 229 yards and two touchdowns for UCF, while Ryan O’Keefe had 11 catches for 94 yards and a TD. 

Tulane was led by quarterback Michael Pratt, who went 17-for-28 for 147 yards, while Spears finished with 77 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. 

The Knights (6-3; 4-2 AAC) face a formidable foe in SMU (7-2; 3-2 AAC) in Dallas on Saturday. Kickoff is set for Noon and the game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

After Dismantling Temple, Knights Return Saturday for Homecoming

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:19

The UCF Knights (5-3; 3-2 AAC) destroyed the Owls of Temple (3-5; 1-3 AAC) last Saturday 49-7 and will return to campus to face the Tulane Green Wave (1-7; 0-4 AAC) for Homecoming on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4pm and the game will be nationally-televised on ESPNU. Below is a recap of Saturday’s win against Temple along with video highlights courtesy of the AAC:

Mikey Keene threw a career-best five touchdown passes and UCF rolled to a 49-7 win over Temple on Saturday.

Keene was 15 of 21 for 229 yards. He threw touchdown passes that covered 13 yards to Alec Holler and 18 to Brandon Johnson in the second quarter for a 21-0 lead at the half. In the the third quarter the scoring plays covered 33 yards with Holler and 12 and 46 yards with Ryan O’Keefe.

Isaiah Bowser, who rushed for 89 yards, ran 11 yards for a score in the first quarter and Johnny Richardson had a 1-yard plunge for a fourth-quarter score.

The Knights (5-3, 3-2 American Athletic Conference), who have won five straight in the series, piled up 428 yards of total offense while limiting the Owls (3-5, 1-3) to 297.

Temple, which lost three fumbles, scored in the last minute when backup quarterback Justin Lynch hit Jose Barbon with a 27-yard strike. Jadan Blue had four receptions to move into second on Temple’s all-time list with 168.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Strong Defense Propels UCF’s Win over Memphis

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:58

In their annual Space Game, the UCF Knights (4-3; 2-2 AAC) soundly defeated the Memphis Tigers (4-4; 1-3 AAC) 24-7 at a packed Bounce House on the beautiful UCF campus Saturday. The game was nationally televised on ESPN2. UCF used a stout defensive approach to force the Tigers to cough up several turnovers. As reported by the AAC:

Ryan O’Keefe rushed for one touchdown, caught a pass for another and UCF defeated Memphis 24-7 on Space Night Friday.

On a night themed to honor UCF’s ties to the nation’s space program — complete with the unveiling of special uniforms — the Knights were somewhat low orbit as Mikey Keene completed 11 of 19 passes for 63 yards — his lowest yardage since the season opener.

Meanwhile, the Knights gained 215 yards on the ground with Isaiah Bowser rushing for 111 yards on 26 carries, his second 100-yard rushing game of the season.

Peter Parrish, starting for Memphis’ injured Seth Henigan (right hand), went 31-for-48 passing for 215 yards but threw three interceptions. His final pick came with less than five minutes remaining. An unnecessary roughness penalty against UCF advanced Memphis to a first down at the 27 and Parrish’ shot to the end zone was intercepted by Dyllon Lester.

Parrish guided the Tigers close to the end zone once more in the closing minutes, advancing to the 12-yard line, but a third-down pass to the end zone was broken up by UCF’s Justin Hodges and a fourth-down run by Parrish was short.

Parrish was also the Tigers leading rusher with 60 yards gained on 22 carries but he was sacked six times for a loss of 39 yards.

UCF takes on the Owls of Temple (3-4; 1-2 AAC) on Saturday at Noon. The game will be streamed live in ESPN+.

Check out video highlights of UCF’s Saturday win over Memphis, courtesy of the AAC, below:

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Knights Get Back to Winning in Thrilling 20-16 Victory over East Carolina

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:45

After falling to Louisville and Navy in their last two contests, the UCF Knights (3-2; 1-1 AAC) defeated East Carolina (3-3; 1-1 AAC) in a thrilling game at the Bounce House last Saturday night. The game was televised live on ESPN+. The Knights take on the #3-ranked Bearcats of Cincinnati (5-0; 1-0 AAC) on Saturday. Kickoff is at Noon and the game will be nationally-televised on ABC. See below for the AAC’s summary of UCF’s win over ECU along with video highlights from the game.

ORLANDO, Fla. — — Mark-Antony Richards’ 1-yard touchdown smash with 23 seconds left to play helped carry UCF to a 20-16 win over East Carolina on Saturday.

Richards’ score ended an 11-play, 64-yard drive that lasted just a little more than three minutes.

Johnny Richardson paced UCF (3-2, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) on the ground with 104 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Mikey Keene threw for 194 yards for the Knights.

Holton Ahlers threw for 208 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Pirates (3-3, 1-1).

With its sixth-straight win over the Pirates, UCF leads the cumulative series 11-10.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

UCF Knights Crush Wildcats, Look to Primetime Matchup at Louisville

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 23:43

The UCF Knights (2-0; 0-0 AAC) crushed the Wildcats of Bethune Cookman (0-2; 0-0 SWAC) 63-14 Saturday night in front of a packed Bounce House Stadium. It was a huge week for UCF, which accepted an offer to join the Big XII Conference by 2024, sealing the Knights’ future as a member of a Power 5 conference. The Knights now move on to face ACC foe Louisville (1-1; 0-0 ACC) on Friday night. That game will be broadcasted on ESPN at 7:30pm. Check out a synopsis of UCF’s win against Bethune Cookman courtesy of the AAC and video highlights of the game courtesy of UCF Athletics below:

ORLANDO, Fla. — UCF improved to 2-0 on the season with a 63-14 victory over visiting Bethune-Cookman, Saturday at the Bounce House. Junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

The Knights struck first with a rushing touchdown from Isaiah Bowser, his second of the season. Bethune-Cookman then countered with a score of its own to tie the game at 7-7. 

UCF took a 14-7 lead when Dillon Gabriel found Brandon Johnson in the end zone from 22 yards out. It marked the 25th straight game Gabriel has thrown a touchdown, taking sole possession of second place in the UCF record book for consecutive games with a passing touchdown.

Tatum Bethune snagged his second-career interception.

Isaiah Bowser rushed for a trio of touchdowns in the second quarter to help UCF get out to a 35-7 lead at halftime. Bowser tied the UCF record for rushing touchdowns in the game, matching Darriel Mack, Kevin Smith and Alex Haynes.

Gabriel had the longest rush of his career, running 44 yards and all the way across the field to make it 42-7 in the third quarter. The Wildcats got one score back in the third to make it 42-14.

Gabriel found Trillion Coles for a third-quarter touchdown, the first for Coles in his career, making it 49-14.

The Knights made it 56-14 when freshmen quarterback Mikey Keene hit Kaedin Robinson for a 30-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. It was Keene’s first touchdown in his first collegiate action, and Robinson’s first-career score on the first catch of his career.

Coles rushed for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 63-14 in favor of the Knights.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

UCF Knights Roar Back From 21-Point Deficit, Beat Boise State in Season Opener Amid Pending B12 Invite

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:23

The UCF Knights (1-0; 0-0 AAC) roared back from a 21-point deficit against the Boise State Broncos (0-1; 0-0 MWC) Thursday night (after a 3-hour weather delay) to win 36-31. The game was absolutely heart pounding; and it marked the biggest comeback win in Knights football history! Rumors of a potential B12 invite also heated up hours before the game, when ESPN began reporting that UCF, BYU, Houston, and Cincinnati were top contenders for B12 conference expansion.

This news crystallized on Friday when ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and other sports media outlets confirmed an official invite from the league could be coming by September 10th. The move to the B12 would be historic and monumental for UCF, marking its entrance into a Power 5 conference. Below, read UCF Athletics’ recap of UCF’s victory over Boise State and watch video highlights courtesy of the AAC:

The UCF football team opened the Gus Malzahn era with a 36-31 defeat of visiting Boise State, Thursday in a delayed start at the Bounce House. Junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 318 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions as the Knights won their season opener for the sixth straight year.

The 2021 season opener for the UCF football team against Boise State, scheduled to kick off at 7:05 p.m. from the Bounce House Thursday night, kicked off at 9:45 p.m. after a lightning delay.

After stopping the Broncos on their first drive, the Knights drove the length of the field, but Boise State intercepted Dillon Gabriel and returned it for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. Boise State scored again on a 3-yard rush to take a 14-0 first-quarter league.

Boise State extended its lead to 21-0 in the second quarter, but the Knights struck back with a touchdown from Gabriel to Alec Holler, the tight end’s first-career reception.

Gabriel found Titus Mokiao-Atimalala for a 8-yard pass with six seconds left in the first half to make it 24-14.

Early in the third, Gabriel hit Brandon Johnson for an 11-yard touchdown pass to make it just 24-21 in favor of the Broncos.

UCF took the lead, at 28-24, when Gabriel hit Jaylon Robinson for a 21-yard touchdown pass. The Knights made it 30-24 on a safety early in the fourth quarter.

Boise State retook the lead after Gabriel’s second interception led to a Bronco touchdown to make it 31-30.

The Knights took a 36-31 advantage when Isaiah Bowser rushed for a score late in the fourth quarter. UCF’s two-point conversion was no good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Introducing UCF’s New Football Coach, Gus Malzahn

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:36

Terry Mohajir, UCF Knights new Athletic Director, wasted no time in hiring a new football coach for the program after Josh Heupel left for Tennessee last month. Former Auburn Football Coach Gus Malzahn will take over the reigns of the program. Malzahn, a mega-successful Coach with a stellar career, will be paid $11.5 million over a 5-year period. Take a look at the hire analysis by CBS Sports, grading it an A+, below:

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