Murray scores 3 times, UCF rolls past SMU 42-17

KYLE HIGHTOWER (Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Latavius Murray rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns and caught another score as Central Florida rolled past Southern Methodist 42-17 Saturday night.

Quarterback Blake Bortles also accounted for three touchdowns - two through the air and one on the ground - to help the Knights (7-2, 5-0) secure their fifth straight victory and remain on track to host the Conference USA championship game.

SMU (4-5, 3-2), which entered with the league's top-rated rushing defense, fell back under .500 and deeper behind West Division-leading Tulsa.

The Mustangs briefly closed within four points in the second quarter, but never found consistency on either side of the ball.

After posting a career passing effort in last week's win over Memphis, SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert was sacked three times and never got into a rhythm.

SMU's offense entered Saturday's game with some momentum with Gilbert coming off a career-high 353-yard passing effort in the Mustangs' 44-13 victory over Memphis last week.

But the Knights' defense kept the junior off balance throughout, holding him to just 16 of 29 for 133 yards. Gilbert and Zach Line both had rushing scores, but were otherwise limited to mostly short gains.

Line finished with 96 yards on 21 carries, his longest run of the game a 20-yard burst in the first half.

SMU's struggles were on both sides of the ball, with its defense having no answers for Murray in the first half while the Knights built a 21-10 halftime lead.

Murray showed both his vision finding running lanes and his speed in the open field during the half, rushing for 124 yards and two scores.

That opened up the passing game as well, with Bortles adding a third score through the air and spreading out the Mustangs' secondary. For the night Bortles completed throws to seven different receivers.

SMU rode Line on the ground as much as it could and kept the game close early. But the Mustangs went three-and-out on three of their six drives of the opening 24 minutes. Gilbert also struggled to connect with his receivers, going 9-for-20 passing and was sacked twice.

Gilbert did cap a solid, 15-play drive with a 4-yard rushing score to close the gap briefly at 14-10 midway through the second quarter. It was overshadowed, though, by two other long drives that ended in a punt and field goal.

The Mustangs' special teams also had a miscue, with Kenneth Acker muffing a punt early in the second quarter. It was recovered by UCF and set up Murray's first rushing score of the game.