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UCF doesn't let up, downs UConn

The SportsXchange

The whiff of national recognition that the University of Central Florida football team has achieved will linger a lot longer if they continue playing at the level they have shown the past two weeks.

Central Florida routed Connecticut, 62-17, on Saturday, rolling up 527 yards of total offense and forcing three turnovers against a winless team that was no match for the Knights.

This comes one week after UCF rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half to beat then No. 8-ranked Louisville, 38-35. That win pushed the Knights into the AP poll for the first time this season. Their No. 21 rating tied the highest school ranking ever. Routing UConn could move them up a few more spots.

"We wanted to pick up right where we left off at Louisville and we did that today," said UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, who threw a career-best four touchdown passes and ran for another score before sitting out most of the second half. "We were definitely in sync as a unit. When the things you're doing are working, you can feel it and we were definitely feeling as a unit today."

Added wide receiver J.J. Worton: "We came off a big win, had a lot of momentum and we wanted to keep our foot on the gas.

Worton was a big part of that with a career-high 119 receiving yards, including a 61-yard scoring pass from Bortles.

Bortles also threw two touchdown passes Jeff Godfrey and one to running back Storm Johnson. Johnson and Rannell Hall added touchdown runs as the Knights ran up the most points in a conference game in school history.

All that offensive production left Connecticut coach T.J. Weist dizzy.

"I watched their offense and it's hard for me to pinpoint who was going to get the ball next and how are you going to stop him," Weist said. "One minute it's Blake Bortles and the next minute it's Storm Johnson and next minute it's their receivers and tight end. It's hard to say who you're going to stop because they have so many weapons and use them efficiently."

Even coach George O'Leary of Central Florida, who is far more fond of finding mistakes than praising execution, had good things to say about Bortles and his team's performance.

"The good quarterbacks in the country take a bad play and make a good play out of it, and that's what Blake is doing," O'Leary said. "There is no doubt he is a talented athlete. I think what he's doing is keeping the ball alive and as long as you do that, you will have a chance to make plays."

Bortles completed 20-of-24 passes for 286 yards for UCF (6-1, 3-0 in the conference) before taking a seat one possession into the second half. Godfrey, who lost his starting position to Bortles two years ago, caught two touchdown passes from his successor and a third from backup Justin Holman.

Johnson added two touchdowns, one a 10-yard run and the other on a seven-yard pass from Bortles. Worton caught Bortles' last touchdown pass, a 61-yard pitch-and-run on the second play of the second half.

Quarterback Tim Boyle of UConn (0-7, 0-3) had the opposite kind of day. Boyle was 7-of-21 for 47 yards and two interceptions before giving way to Casey Cochran in the middle of the third quarter. Cochran got his first career touchdown pass, a 46-yard strike to Brian Lemelle at the start of the fourth quarter and finished 7-of-11 for 95 yards.

"We're going to have to look at our quarterback situation and all of our players," Weist said. "We've got to face the reality that our current team really can't afford to make mistakes. The only chance we've got is to execute, get some momentum, not turn the ball over or be out of position, and we just didn't do that."

Central Florida dominated the game from the opening kickoff, scoring on all seven first-half possessions, while outgaining the Huskies, 338-90. Bortles was 19-of-23 for 225 yards and three touchdowns in the half and the Knights didn't punt.

UCF had scoring drives of 75, 80 and 49 yards in the first quarter. Storm Johnson started the scoring with a 10-yard burst to finish off a seven-play, 75-yard drive that included a 16-yard run by Bortles. The UCF quarterback, who normally runs as a last-ditch option, scrambled 10 yards for a touchdown on the next possession, converting a third-and-goal opportunity. He reverted to customary form on the next drive, throwing a seven-yard scoring pass to Johnson to make it 21-3 with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Knights all but handed the Huskies their only touchdown of the half with a series of mistakes that started when reserve lineman Stanley Sylverain mistakenly touched a UConn punt and Elijah Norris recovered at the Knights' 24-yard-line. The Huskies needed seven plays, including a fourth-and-one conversion and a roughing the passer call, before Lyle McCombs scooted through the middle of the UCF defense on a nine-yard scoring run.

Things quickly got out of hand from there. UCF scored four times in the final eight minutes of the second quarter, aided by interceptions from Troy Gray and Sean Magg.

Shawn Moffitt started things with a 50-yard field goal and Rannell Hall followed it with a 17-yard touchdown run. Bortles took over from there, hitting Jeff Godfrey with scoring passes of 10 and nine yards, the last coming with 47 seconds left in the half.

Bortles then completed a 62-yard scoring pass to Worton on UCF's second offensive play of the second half to set a personal best for touchdown passes in a game. He sat out the rest of the game.

NOTES: UCF quarterback Blake Bortles has been sacked only four times in the last six games after being sacked four times in the opener against Akron. UConn quarterbacks have been sacked 33 times. ... UCF is 6-1 for the first time since the 1998 team was 7-1. ... UConn LB Yawin Smallwood, the third-leading tackler in the country with 12.8 per game, had a season-low two tackles.
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