Senior class comes up big in 40-20 win over ECU
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 08:10
For months, UCF head coach George O’Leary has been comparing his senior class with the 2010 senior class. After four games and an unspectacular 2-2 record, O’Leary knew he needed more.
“I look at the senior class on offense and they’re the ones that have to get going,” O’Leary said last week previewing ECU.
His seniors responded.
Several seniors came up big in the Knights’ (3-2) 40-20 victory over East Carolina (3-3) Thursday.
Senior wide receiver Quincy McDuffie led the charge with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to provide a first-half spark while the Knights were down 14-0. McDuffie’s return brought life to the team and to the stands, and it began a 20-3 run by UCF to close out the first half.
In the second half, the Pirates cut UCF’s lead down to a touchdown. The Knights have had a disturbing trend of struggling in the second half all season, but senior McDuffie struck again.
McDuffie caught a screen pass and used his world-class speed to get into the hole, and eventually into the end zone.
“I knew how bad we needed it and I know I was very determined to get into that end zone, so I made it happen,” McDuffie said.
McDuffie has 16 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns so far in 2012.
“ECU was in control of our conference, so we just tried to keep everyone tuned in and just come out here so we can all play ball,” he said.
The senior class on the defensive side brought its best on Thursday night.
Senior defensive end Troy Davis has been on fire lately. With four sacks in the season, he has relentlessly been getting after the quarterback from his natural end spot and also from tackle on passing downs.
“A lot of the guys I play with don’t have as much footspeed as us, so we can run different stunts,” Davis said.
Davis sliding to the inside has opened up the outside for other dynamic pass rushers, such as fellow senior Cam Henderson and freshmen Deion Green and Thomas Niles.
“It starts off on the practice field as far as seniors and doing the right thing and showing these young guys how it’s done on the field,” Davis said.
“They run the roost as far as the locker room, socially and making sure a lot of the young kids do what they are supposed to do,” O’Leary said.
Senior linebackers Jonathan Davis and Ray Shipman both had four tackles, and Davis played his best game of the season.
Despite getting beaten for a 60-yard gain, senior corner A.J. Bouye responded by making an excellent play on the ball to deflect it away from a potential touchdown.
“They’re the ones that have been around and they’re the ones [who] have respect of their teammates,” O’Leary said. “I think they have done a good job, not always the best players but I think collectively the best leadership.”