Atlanta, Ga — University of Central Florida Knights defense seals the 34-27 victory over Auburn University Tigers with an interception in the 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Every since the teams were announced everyone’s focus has been can UCF’s offense compete against Auburn’s defense? How will UCF fare against a real team from a real conference? Should the American Athletic Conference champion be consider great although they do not play anybody all year? How will they play knowing their coach has accepted another job? Well all those questions and more were answered today.
This game started off as a defensive battle that only the knights would expect them to play this well. This is the same team that gave up 42 points , 4 passing touchdowns and 500 yards to USF. The same team that gave up over 700 total yards and 7 touchdowns to Memphis in the AAC championship game. With those stats no way they should be up 13-6 at the half. The main thing that sticks out on the stat sheet is 5 sacks. O lineman Austin Golson stated ,”We were not communicating well. They outplayed us in the first half for sure.”
The 3rd quarter started with Noah Igbinoghene breaking loose for a 72 yards kickoff return. Auburn fans went crazy! 2 plays later Jarrett Stidham connected with Will Hastings for the 26 yards touchdown! Hastings ended as the lead receiver 6 catches and 117 yards. Score tied 13-13. The knights could not get anything going so the ball was back in the tigers hand and they made it count. They put together a 10 play , 82 yard drive that was capped by another touchdown. The play that extended this drive was a 29 yards catch from Stidham to Darius Slayton on 3rd and 7 yard. Slayton ended the game with 5 catches for 69 yards. Auburn 20 – UCF 13. At this point it was not looking good for UCF but the team or the fans did not seem fazed. It was if they were saying we have been here before and we will be fine. 2 drives later they were back in the endzone when McKenzie Milton connected with Otis Anderson for a 12 yards touchdown. Score tied 20-20 going into the 4th quarter.
UCF was clearly ready to win this game. The 1st drive ended with Milton connecting with Dredick Snelson for a touchdown. I could swear he said “That was Easy!” UCF 27 – Auburn 20
At this point UCF is winning and right at the 27 points they need to win this game. The next drive Auburn was 3 and out and the ball was back into the knights hand. UCF was able to get in field goal positions and had a chance to get 30 points. That would be the most given up by this outstanding defense all year. Well fan the tigers blocked the kick. Yes they blocked it! Derrick Brown was able to get a hand in there. Wow Wow!! Auburn fans were smiling from ear to ear. You can feel the momentum shifting in their favor. Then all hope was lost when UCF’s Chequan Burkett jumped a route and took it to the house for 45 yards. UCF 34 – Auburn 20
Auburn was able to get a score on a beautiful trick play but it was too little too late. The knights were able to get the win, finish 13-0, American Athletic Conference champ and now 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Champs. #Go Knights
Final thought from former coach Frost “ I wanted to do it for them. I didn’t know if we had a chance or not, but I thought us coaches being here would give us the best chance. I can’t believe they did this. They pulled this off under these circumstances. It’s a credit to these players.”