With his helmet off, sophomore quarterback Justin Holman raced down the sideline to embrace his teammates as they trotted off the field. William Stanback had just capped off a 41-7 victory against Bethune-Cookman with a 2-yard score.
First it was a receiver, and then it was his backup, redshirt freshman Nick Patti who was being embraced by the jovial Holman.
It was all he could do from the sidelines, and showed signs of growth into the leader UCF hopes he can become.
"It shows the guys that you're focused, and that we can't get comfortable just because the starter is out," Holman said.
Holman was on the bench for the first time since the first drive in the second half of the Croke Park Classic, but this time he was watching his team finish off a dominating victory where all he could do was celebrate the win.
"Football is a team game; it's not a me game," UCF head coach George O'Leary said. "Justin is that kind of kid. He's happy to see other people's successes and he should be."
Yellow flags, grey jerseys and a swarming pass rush were only a few of the things that aided UCF to its first win of the season in front of an announced 44,510 fans. After trailing 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, UCF rallied to score 38 unanswered points.
In his first start in front of the home crowd, Holman started slow, but was able to find his rhythm on a 61-yard scoring strike to Breshad Perriman in the second quarter.
"I always have butterflies before a game," Holman said. "But after that first snap, they went away and it was time to focus up."
Holman completed six of his 11 passes, for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore was pulled from the game in the fourth quarter for Patti, a Boise State transfer.
Despite Holman's effectiveness in limited attempts, the focus of the UCF offensive attack was on the ground. William Stanback eclipsed 100 yards and scored two touchdowns on the day. Holman added 46 yards on the ground, and didn't attempt a pass in the third quarter.
Despite the offensive explosion, it was the defense, led by an emotional Terrance Plummer that set the tone early.
"These last few games, we've been giving up touchdowns on the first drive and letting people drive the ball down," Plummer said. "We wanted to make a statement and go out there and set the tone early."
The pass rush, which had been dormant through the season's first two games, was active early, netting five first-half sacks. After an early sack, Plummer danced off the field in celebration with his teammates, and ignited the team's bench.
"I tried to put it all on my shoulders. I'm the senior. I'm the Mike linebacker. I'm the guy that everybody looks to, and I have to take that responsibility, and the first two weeks I don't know if I did a good enough job," Plummer said. "For the rest of the season I am going to make sure I am that guy out there, and that I am the vocal leader that is bringing passion to the game."
Plummer and Troy Gray tied for a team-high nine tackles, and Plummer also forced a fumble.
After starting the season, allowing more than 450 yards passing and following up that performance by allowing four passing touchdowns last week in Missouri, the Knights' defense was suffocating on Saturday night. Bethune-Cookman was limited to just 144 yards of total offense.
But the most throws on Saturday came from the officiating crew. The Wildcats were assessed with 15 penalties, and had numerous more declined by UCF. Bethune-Cookman netted 127 penalty yards.
UCF returns to the field on Oct. 2 on the road against Houston.