Offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.
After a tough loss last week, the Knights were able to bounce back by defeating Tulane 37-6.
“The effort they gave us this week was incredible. They had their best week of practice all year and it paid off,” head coach Scott Frost said after the game.
Tulane (3-6, 0-5 AAC) was the first to score, after forcing a fumble on the opening offensive play of the game. They then played a nearly perfect drive, going 42 yards in just 5 plays to score.
UCF (5-4, 3-2 AAC) was able to block the extra point attempt and that was just the beginning of what ended up being a historic defensive performance for the Knights.
At the start of the second quarter, true freshman Adrian Killins found a gap and had a big 28-yard run that put the Knights in the red zone. Freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton scored his third rushing touchdown on the season shortly after.
“At some point in time the offense is going to have to have the defense’s back and the defense is going to have to have the offense’s back. So knowing that our defense has our back is awesome,” Killins said.
With UCF leading Tulane just 7-6 at half, the Knights’ defense went straight into lockdown mode and the second half proved that they could finish games.
Redshirt senior defensive back Drico Johnson started the defense off when he forced a fumble that he was able to return 30 yards for a touchdown. Johnson would later get an interception as well, taking it back an astounding 86 yards for another score.
“Both times I jumped the play, the ball got up in my hands, and I was able to run back and get in the end zone for my team,” Johnson said.
Johnson and senior defensive back Shaquill Griffin alone put 21 points on the board for the Knights. It was the first time since 2010 that the UCF defense had scored multiple times in a game.
“I’m starting to think it’s a chain reaction,” Griffin said. “At FIU Drico got a pick and then right after I got a pick, it didn’t count but I still got the ball in my hands. Then we come back to this game, he gets the pick and scores, and then the next play I get the pick and the score, so now I’m starting to think that it’s like a chain reaction or something.”
The Knight’s second half defensive performance was big, as in the last three games they have been outscored 40-13 in the second half after leading at halftime. In the second half of Saturday night’s game, they outscored Tulane 23-0.
“Our defense and that coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done this year, and they were dominant tonight,” Frost said. “I think our defensive staff did a really good job at halftime adjusting who was responsible for what and answering how they were running some plays.”
Up next UCF will face Cincinnati in another conference matchup next Saturday November 12th at Bright House Networks Stadium.