Friday, November 04, 2016

Houston 31, Central Florida 24

It was a tale of two halves.

The Bad, Ugly First Half: Greg Ward Jr had three interceptions, fumbled once, was sacked twice in a row on one possession, and generally looked lost. The Cougar running game was completely stuffed, gaining a total of six rushing yards in the half. The Cougars also committed multiple penalties that either ended Houston drives or extended UCF drives, including a personal foul penalty on a missed UCF field goal that resulted in a first down and, a few plays later, a touchdown (the officiating of this game was rather poor and one-sided, by the way). The Golden Knights led at halftime, 21-3, and it really looked like the Cougars had once again decided to quit.

The Good, Beautiful Second Half: As the second half started, it looked like more was in store for the Coogs as Greg Ward Jr fumbled once again, this time in Houston's own 13 yard line, and the crowd (what was left of it after halftime, at least) began clamoring for backup QB Kyle Postma. The Cougar defense, however, stepped up and sacked Knight QB Mackenzie Milton to limit the damage to a field goal. The Cougars finally found the endzone on the ensuing possession, thanks in part to a 46 yard scramble by walk-on RB Dillon Birden. UCF fumbled the ball on their next possession - their first of four turnovers in the second half - and the Cougars proceeded to score again. Houston would score 28 unanswered points in the second half. The Knights, meanwhile, were held to 29 total yards in the second half, while the Houston ground game finally got it going with 152 rushing yards. For all of his struggles, Greg Ward Jr finished with 240 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and two rushing touchdowns.

What It Means: It was very heartening to see the Cougars rally in the second half when they just as easily could have quit; time will tell if the halftime of this game marked a turning point on the season. With the win, the Cougars now have seven wins and are guaranteed their fourth winning season in a row.

The banged-up Cougars get a much-needed bye week before hosting Tulane on November 12.

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