Turnovers, rushing attack prove key in Knights’ win
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 20:10
When the Knights’ defense needed a play, its two starting senior defensive backs were there to make it.
UCF (5-2) defeated the Memphis Tigers (1-6), 35-17, in Memphis on Saturday night, moving to 3-0 in Conference USA this season.
“I think [turnovers were] the difference in the game tonight,” head coach George O’Leary said in a release. “Defensively, we made some plays. We got some quick three-and-outs that kept us in good field position.”
Despite a strong start, the Knights struggled for much of the game. In the first quarter, redshirt senior running back Latavius Murray had nine carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Murray also set his career-long carry twice in the quarter.
Murray set up his first touchdown run with a 50-yard run. That career high wouldn’t last long, and Murray got loose later in the quarter for an 83-yard touchdown run.
Murray finished the game with 23 carries, 192 yards and two touchdowns.
“The line was doing their job up front,” Murray said in a release. “On those two runs that I broke long on, I just made sure that I hit it and got what was there. I felt good to be out there. That first quarter, those runs we had … we just need to pick it up in the second half and play a full game like that.”
Murray dominated the game in his return to the starting lineup, making his first start since the first game of the season against Akron. After Storm Johnson lost 16 yards and then fumbled, Murray received the rest of the carries.
The redshirt senior wore down the Tigers’ defense and was the clear focal point for the Knights.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles struggled early, but finished the game completing 15 of his 26 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
In the third quarter, Bortles hooked up with redshirt sophomore wide receiver J.J. Worton over the middle for a 29-yard score. Worton finished the game with five catches for 56 yards and one touchdown. Worton led the team in catches and yards.
In the fourth quarter, Bortles found sophomore tight end Justin Tukes for a 6-yard touchdown catch.
The Knights’ defense was gashed on the ground, giving up 240 yards on 45 carries for 5.3 yards per carry. Despite the lack of success stopping the run, UCF had three takeaways.
The Knights allowed only 121 yards through the air, allowing Memphis quarterback Jacob Karam to complete 20 of his 28 passes.
Senior safety Kemal Ishmael recovered a fumble at the UCF 1-yard line, halting a potential scoring drive by Memphis. Ishmael had 10 tackles in the game.
Redshirt sophomore safety Clayton Geathers forced a fumble in the third quarter, which senior cornerback A.J. Bouye recovered and ran 76 yards for a touchdown.
Bouye also intercepted a deep pass and returned it 32 yards for the Knights.
Bouye has two interceptions this season. Saturday’s was his first since UCF played at Ohio State in the second game of the season.
Geathers had a big game for the Knights with 13 tackles to lead the defense.
The Marshall Thundering Herd await their matchup with the Knights, which is set for Saturday at 8 p.m. The game looks to be a key C-USA East showdown as Marshall enters with only one conference loss.