ORLANDO, Fla. - UCF football fans were treated to more than just a relaxing, sunny day at Saturday’s annual spring game at Bright House Networks Stadium.
Prior to kickoff, pregame festivities were in full effect and featured several area food trucks, a kids’ fun zone and giveaways. The UCF Football Lettermen’s Club also had their spring barbeque on the practice fields.
When it was all said and done, UCF defeated Knights, 25-10, and all three young quarterbacks saw a lot of action. Sophomore Justin Holman finished 18-for-31 for 165 yards, redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo went 10-for-20 with 117 yards, a touchdown and an interception and true freshman Tyler Harris was 5-for-11 with 38 yards and a pick.
Leading the receivers, J.J. Worton had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown and Josh Reese also sported six receptions for 45 yards. On the ground, Dontravious Wilson posted 15 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown while William Stanback had five attempts for 108 yards, sparked by a 70-yard touchdown.
Defensively, Thomas Niles opened eyes with six sacks against the backup offense. Sean Beckton and Maurice Russell both had seven tackles, along with Niles.
The format Saturday featured the first-team offense (UCF) facing off with the second- and third-team defense (Knights), while the second- and third-team offense (Knights) battled the first-team defense (UCF).
UCF elected to play defense first and did not allow the Knights to move, forcing a 3-and-out on the first drive. Holman then led the first-team offense and connected with Rannell Hall immediately to get past the 50-yard line, but the momentum stalled as Beckton broke up a fourth-down pass to halt the drive.
DiNovo returned for the next drive and used his feet to scramble for the Knights’ first first down, only Niles picked up a sack on third down to force another punt. Working with the first team, running back Wilson helped UCF pick up a first down of its own, while receptions by Reese and Worton eased the drive into the redzone. But the Knights stepped up again, as Tyler Linde broke through to hold UCF on a 4th-and-1 rushing attempt from the 10-yard line.
When the Knights took over on downs at the 10, UCF snagged a 2-0 lead when a snap went over DiNovo’s head and was knocked out of the back of the end zone. The advantage stretched to 9-0 after a Worton catch and run put UCF on the Knights-12, and Wilson capped it off with a 5-yard burst.
DiNovo looked to cut into UCF’s lead, finding Michael Colubiale with a 22-yard reception before the first quarter ended. At the 50-yard line and up against fourth down, DiNovo found Taylor Oldham, who broke a tackle for a 15-yard pickup and ultimately set up a 43-yard field goal by Rodrigo Quirarte to make it 9-3 UCF. DiNovo went 5-for-5 on the drive.
For UCF, Holman hoped for an answer and collected his 10th completion of the day before reaching the Knights-39. Going for it on fourth down, the drive stalled on an incomplete pass.
With 7:59 to go in the first half, Harris stepped onto the Bright House Networks Stadium field for the first time, yet UCF delivered a 3-and-out. DiNovo to re-entered with the first team and witnessed Stanback get to the corner and outrun the defense for a 70-yard rushing touchdown. Moments later, another bad snap into the back of the end zone padded UCF’s cushion to 18-3.
When the Knights’ offense returned, Niles also returned for UCF, delivering his second sack of the day to bring up a punting situation.
Using its “fastball” offense with under two minutes to play, UCF started its drive with four-straight completions from Holman to Reese, Worton, Perriman and then Reese again to get to the UCF-49 yard line. Holman went with a QB draw to pick up a first down, though it was dropped by Miles Pace with 39 seconds left for a sack. Following a timeout, DiNovo took a shot out of bounds, causing a 15-yard penalty. On the next play, DiNovo threw into double coverage but had little doubt about the result, as Worton outstretched the defensive backs, brought it down and spun out of a tackle for a 33-yard touchdown catch and a 25-3 UCF lead entering the break.
The Spring Game went with a running clock for the majority of the second half. Punters Caleb Houston and Sean Galvin were in action when the second half began thanks to consecutive 3-and-outs. It stayed 25-3 when Niles came through with his fourth sack of the afternoon on another third down in the fourth quarter. The Knights finally breached the endzone with nine minutes remaining when defensive back Jared Henry came up with a pick six, cruising 45 yards to make it 25-10.
With the clock ticking down, neither offense could muster any more points as Holman and DiNovo had chances with under a minute to go, and UCF walked off with the 25-10 win.
With spring camp now in the books, UCF will now look ahead to the preseason in August. It will open the 2014 campaign in Dublin, Ireland, for the Croke Park Classic against Penn State Aug. 30. For more information, visit UCF.CrokeParkClassic.com.
2014 UCF Spring Game Final Statistics
Justin Holman – 18-31, 165 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Pete DiNovo – 10-20, 117 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Tyler Harris – 5-11, 38 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Dontravious Wilson – 15 attempts, 44 yards, 1 TD
Justin Holman – 9 attempts, 7 yards
Pete DiNovo – 6 attempts, 11 yards
William Stanback – 5 attempts, 108 yards, 1 TD
Cedric Thompson – 3 attempts, 0 yards
Tyler Harris – 3 attempts, -17 yards
Rannell Hall – 2 attempts, 13 yards
Micah Reed – 2 attempts, 1 yard
Hayden Jones – 1 attempt, 2 yards
Josh Reese – 1 attempt, -1 yard
Michael Willett – 1 attempt, -1 yard
J.J. Worton – 6 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD
Josh Reese – 6 catches, 45 yards
Breshad Perriman – 4 catches, 39 yards
Rannell Hall – 3 catches, 43 yards
Taylor Oldham – 3 catches, 38 yards
Jackie Williams – 2 catch, 20 yards
Michael Colubiale – 1 catch, 22 yards
Jamari Fye – 1 catch, 17 yards
Hayden Jones – 1 catch, 11 yards
Dontravious Wilson – 1 catch, 6 yards
Chris Johnson – 1 catch, 6 yards
Blake Tiralosi – 1 catch, 6 yards
Cal Bloom – 1 catch, 4 yards
Mario Mathis – 1 catch, 0 yards
Micah Reed – 1 catch, -6 yards
Caleb Houston – 7 punts, 40.4 average, 46 Long
Sean Galvin – 2 punts, 47.5 average, 48 Long
Sean Beckton – 7 tackles, 1 break-up
Maurice Russell – 7 tackles
Thomas Niles – 7 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 hurries
Jordan Ozerities – 5 tackles, 1 break-up, 1 forced fumble
Tony Guerad – 5 tackles, 1 break-up, 1 sack
Jacoby Glenn – 4 tackles, 1 break-up, 1 INT
Mark Rucker – 4 tackles, 1 break-up, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Terrance Plummer – 4 tackles
Tyler Linde – 4 tackles
Troy Gray – 4 tackles
Shaquill Griffin – 3 tackles, 1 break-up
Clayton Geathers – 3 tackles
Miles Pace – 3 tackles, 1 sack
Jamonte Jones – 3 tackles, 2 break-ups
Domenic Spencer – 3 tackles
Shaquem Griffin – 2 tackles
Jared Henry – 2 tackles, 1 INT (TD)
Willie Mitchell – 2 tackles
Stanley Sylverain – 2 tackles, 1 hurry
Deondre Barnett – 2 tackles, 1 sack
Demetris Anderson – 2 tackles
Drico Johnson – 1 tackle
D.J. Killings – 1 tackle
Brendin Straubel – 1 tackle
Damonte Jones – 1 tackle
Rob Sauvao – 1 tackle