ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — On a day when senior quarterback John Rhys Plumlee completed just eight passes, Central Florida scored on a blocked punt and rode four Colton Boomer field goals to a 27-10 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
“A win is a win, no matter what it looks like,” said Plumlee, who has produced two games of 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards this season. “What stood out today was our defense and special teams.”
Plumlee did not complete a pass in the first quarter and finished 8 of 16 for 49 yards with an interception and two sacks. He carried 16 times for 100 yards to lead the Knights’ ground game.
Plumlee described his performance as “bad. I think I’ve got to be better and I will be better."
RJ Harvey and Isaiah Bowser combined for 143 yards on 31 carries, and the Knights averaged 5.1 yards per rush.
“We were having success on the ground so he kept leaning on us,” Bowser said.
UCF (3-1) drove 71 yards on 20 plays, all of them on the ground, on the game's opening series to take a 3-0 lead on a 21-yard Boomer field goal.
Jeff Sims threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Carter to give Georgia Tech (1-3) a 7-3 lead in the second quarter, but the Knights got field goals from 21- and 31-yards out and, with :41 left in the first half, Jarvis Ware blocked David Shanahan's punt. Quandric Bullard scooped up the loose ball at the Yellow Jackets' 29 and scored to send UCF into intermission with a 13-7 lead.
“The big play of the game was the blocked punt right before halftime. It gave us some momentum,” said UCF coach Guz Malzahn. “When you go into the locker room with momentum, that's really good in football.”
The teams traded third quarter field goals and Plumlee charged 28 yards for a touchdown with 10:37 left in the game, then passed for the two-point conversion and Boomer added a 43-yard field goal with 4:17 left.
Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste sacked Sims in the second half and Tre'mon Morris-Brash returned the Tech fumble 89 yards, only to be stripped at the goal line by Nate McCollum for a Georgia Tech touchback. The Yellow Jackets then drove for a 42-yard Jude Kelley field goal to make it 16-10.
But two big penalties helped UCF on a 57-yard touchdown drive that ended with Plumlee's touchdown run, which gave the Knights a 24-10 lead with 10:37 remaining.
Sims was 21 of 32 passing for 314 yards and a touchdown for Georgia Tech. He was sacked four times.
Georgia Tech lost its ninth straight game against an FBS opponent but outgained UCF, 452 yards to 333. Eight penalties, some of them prolonging UCF drives, were critical, and linebacker Charlie Thomas was disqualified for targeting during UCF's fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
UCF did not post gaudy offensive stats but showed it could win with defense and big special teams plays when Plumleee had an off day. “We did give up some yards,” noted Malzahn, “but once we got in the red zone we came up with big plays time and time again.”
Georgia Tech: Plays at No. 24 Pittsburgh in the first of seven straight ACC games on Oct. 1.
UCF: Opens its AAC schedule Oct. 1 with a home game against SMU.
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