The Knights were upset by an 0-4 start, but they remained positive going into Saturday’s game because a third American Athletic Conference title had been the team’s main goal since summer.
That goal may have just been drowned by the Green Wave.
The injury-riddled Knights (0-5, 0-1 in AAC) turned the ball over five times and allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked seven times in route to a 45-31 loss to Tulane (2-2, 1-0 in AAC).
The score may have made the game seem close, but it wasn’t. UCF trailed 38-10 going into the fourth quarter, which is when Tulane decided to let the majority of its starting lineup hit the bench for second stringers.
“They showed heart but a little bit too late," head coach George O'Leary said in a press release. You can’t let that many points [be] given up in the first half on turnovers and poor field position.”
True freshman Bo Schneider, who completed 20 of 37 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown, threw three interceptions before O’Leary sat him down for redshirt freshman Tyler Harris in the fourth quarter as well.
Although Harris faced Tulane’s backups, he proved more productive than Schneider, connecting with true freshman wide receiver D’erren Wilson for three touchdowns. Wilson became the first Knight with three TDs in a game since J.J. Worton in 2013.
“They both went out and did a really nice job," O'Leary said in the release. "Tyler went in and did some nice things, and he showed more poise than he did the last time he played.”
Wilson compiled 114 yards on seven catches, including his first career touchdown as a Knight. Harris finished 10-for-15 with 156 yards and three scores.
“The big thing is that I saw some kids come in in the latter part of the game and make some plays, and I think that’s what’s important," O'Leary said in the release.
UCF’s has the worst-ranked rush game in the FBS, and it severely suffered again. The team combined for -35 yards on 22 attempts.
Redshirt sophomore defensive back Shaquem Griffin set the Knights up for their first score after recovering a mishandled punt on the Tulane 18-yard line. Four plays later, sophomore Jordan Franks reeled in his first career receiving touchdown.
That’s where the Knights’ positives halted and woes took handle.
UCF gave up 24 consecutive points, including two turnovers that led to 14 points in 118 seconds.
Redshirt sophomore Tate Hernly became the 13th Knight to get their first career start on offense this season.
The Knights are now 15-2 in the AAC and 5-2 all-time against Tulane. They remain one of seven winless teams in the FBS. All six of the other teams play later today.
“Overall, we’re very sloppy in tackling, very sloppy in missed assignments and you can’t win games like that," O'Leary said in the release.
UCF will return home to play UConn Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:45 p.m.
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.
Victor Ng is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at@_victorT24.