The West Virginia Mountaineers, losers of two straight heartbreaking games, showed up to Orlando in the “Bounce House” and quickly let the UCF Knights know they were not taking things lightly. The Mountaineers took the opening drive of the game 75-yards in nine plays, including converting a 4th and 1 at their own 45 to quickly get to 7-0.
UCF would answer with their own 9-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown and the game quickly looked like it was going to be a classic Big 12 shootout where the team that blinks or has the ball last would be the winner. Following UCF’s drive, the Mountaineers got started again. The Mountaineers leaned on the run and their stable of running backs as Justin Johnson, Jahiem White and CJ Donaldson all got touches on the drive before an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-6 stalled the drive and the Mountaineers settled for a field goal.
As UCF started their second drive of the game, the tides would soon show to be in the Mountaineers favor. UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee stepped back to pass and heaved a ball downfield where the UCF receiver Javon Baker made an acrobatic attempt to catch the ball but as he was falling to the turf, his momentum kicked the ball up in the air where it held there until Beanie Bishop plucked it and returned it to the UCF 40.
West Virginia showed the tools necessary to ensure Central Florida would always trail from this point forward as they turned the interception into a touchdown, extending the lead to 17-7. Central Florida answered making the game 17-14 but on West Virginia’s next possession quarterback Garrett Greene would be injured for a play, requiring Nicco Marchiol to enter the game. A trick play where Marchiol threw to Preston Fox who pitched the ball to Jaylen Anderson, who promptly fumbled the ball to UCF. However, UCF was determined to not have good fortune as QB Plumlee would throw his second interception of the game on the very next play. The Mountaineers would enter halftime up 17-14.
The second half started much like the first half ended for UCF with Plumlee throwing his third interception of the game as two UCF receivers tripped over each other and allowed Bishop to pick up his fourth interception of the season. The Mountaineers turned this into a touchdown extending their lead to 24-14. A UCF touchdown cut the lead to 24-21 and West Virginia would then punt the ball back to UCF and the tides looked as if they were turning, yet a strip sack on UCF’s next play all but ensured that West Virginia would go home with the win as the UCF’s 4th turnover of the day lead to yet another Mountaineer touchdown extending the lead to 31-21. West Virginia would add another touchdown and a field goal to make it 41-21 before UCF scored a late garbage time touchdown to make the final score 41-28.
STATS OF THE GAME
Quarterback Garrett Greene finished the game 14 of 23 passing with 156 yards and 0 touchdown and 0 interceptions.
The Mountaineers ran the ball 50 times for 286 yards, a 5.7 yard per carry average and five touchdowns, including 3 by QB Garrett Greene. Green finished the day with 211 total yards and 3 touchdowns.
Running back CJ Donaldson notched his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season with a 17 carry, 121-yard, 1 touchdown game. This was easily Donaldson’s best game of the year as he finished with a 7.1 YPC average and looked decisive hitting the hole and carried defenders after contact.
Five Mountaineers carried the ball including three running backs: Donaldson, Jahiem White and Justin Johnson. White finished with 9 carries and 85 yards and a tuddy.
Seven Mountaineers caught passes, with wide receiver Devin Carter leading the team in yards with 47 and tight end Kole Taylor leading the team in receptions with 4.
West Virginia fumbled the ball three times but only lost one, finishing the game with a +3 turnover margin. The Mountaineers are now +1 on the season.
Despite the score, the Knights outgained West Virginia 463-450 through the game and had two more first downs (27-25). The Knights were 9-12 on third down and 1-2 on fourth downs. The Knights finished with 274 yards passing (7.6 YPA) and 189 yards rushing (5.7 YPC).
West Virginia dominated the time of possession 36:06 to 23:54