For 23 straight games, the University of Central Florida in victories have always had one consistent they could lean on knowing that quarterback McKenzie Milton is at the controls. Friday night at Raymond James Stadium, an injury to Milton changed that narrative completely.
The Heisman Trophy candidate suffered a traumatic injury to his leg after a short run in the second quarter, requiring Milton to be carted off the field. With his teammates surrounding him in shock, the Knights answered the bell in making sure the streak lives on. Running back Greg McCrae rushed for 181 yards and scored three touchdowns as No. 9 UCF kept its slim College Football Playoff hopes alive by improving to 11-0 with a 38-10 win over rival USF.
The victory sets up a rematch of last year’s AAC championship game, as the Knights will host Memphis next week. No official status has been announced on Milton, but with a potential knee dislocation, it doesn’t look like he will be seeing the field anytime soon.
”Our guys care deeply about everybody on our football team, and certainly McKenzie,” UCF coach Josh Heupel said. “You could tell by their reaction, wanting to be over near him, by him, to support him. In that moment, it’s hard. I’m proud of our kids – just the resiliency to come back from something like that that happened and continue to play football. I’m proud of the way they finished the game.”
When it looked like USF (7-5) might’ve had an opportunity to take advantage of Milton being out, the Knights went to freshman quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. and the run game. Making just his second start, Mack Jr. (51 yards rushing) was able to keep UCF rolling via the ground attack. Running backs Taj McGowan and Adrian Killins Jr. rushed for 72 and 65 yards, respectively.
Next Saturday the Knights will host Memphis at Spectrum Stadium and kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.