In what is potentially Scott Frost’s final game as the head coach at UCF, he truly went out in style. A back and forth affair which saw over 1,500 total yards combined by both teams capped off an undefeated season for the Knights, who will head into their bowl game (perhaps a New Year’s Six game) 12-0 and the AAC champions.
As the first and second ranked offenses in the nation in points per game, both teams put on a scoring exhibition. Throwing haymakers in the form of long touchdowns back and forth until finally, UCF was able to come out victorious in a second overtime.
Leading UCF to victory was sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton, who finished the game completing 28 of 40 passes for 494 yards, and five touchdowns. Adding another touchdown on the ground, Milton finished with a total of six touchdowns in the game. Although he threw three interceptions in the game, Milton was able to overcome this adversity by making key plays in big moments in the game, leading them to victory.
Now sitting at 35 touchdown passes for the season, Milton broke former UCF quarterback Ryan Schneider’s previous record of 31 touchdown passes to become the sole leader of the school record for touchdown passes in a season.
Milton spread the ball out well, completing passes to eight different receivers in the game, but it was Dedrick Snelson and Tre’Quan Smith as the standouts, as both finished with over 100-yards receiving for the game. Snelson had145 yards receiving and Smith had 161 yards. Each receiver scored two touchdowns and were key targets for Milton throughout the contest.
The rushing attack for the Knights was also effective, rushing for 232-yards and three touchdowns. Running back Otis Anderson led the way, rushing 16 times for 117 yards and the final score of the game in the second overtime, lifting the Knights over the Tigers.
The Memphis Tigers fought valiantly, overcoming a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game and send it to overtime late. Tigers’ quarterback Riley Ferguson was every bit as impressive as Milton, completing 30 of 42 passes for 471 yards and four touchdowns.
Ferguson’s primary target was by far wide receiver Anthony Miller, who thrashed the UCF defense for 195 yards and three touchdowns. UCF’s defense was able to make enough plays in the end, though, including an interception to finish the game and escape with the win.
In his final game at Spectrum Stadium, redshirt senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin showed why he is such an impact player for the UCF defense. With six tackles for the game, including two sacks and a fumble recovery, Griffin left it all out on the field and will be remembered by UCF fans for his incredible effort through the harshest adversity.
The final play of the game was a triumph for the UCF defense, who had given up four passing touchdowns up to that point in the game. As Ferguson attempted to throw, it was junior safety Tre Neal who would be the hero for the Knights, intercepting the pass and putting the final nail in the coffin for the Memphis Tigers.
After the game, Frost reflected about the victory and the moment of hoisting the trophy with his team as confetti fell upon him and his team. “I will remember that for a long time.” He continued, “I couldn’t see anything because of the confetti, but that’s not my trophy. That’s their trophy. It’s a proud moment for me, but I wanted to get that trophy in these guys’ hands as fast as I could.”
It has been reported that Frost has accepted the job to become the next head coach at Nebraska. When asked about the report Frost said he wanted to speak to his team first before commenting. Scott Frost’s effect on this program was real. During his two-year tenure with the Knights, he took a 0-12 team to 12-0 in what Frost described as an “Impossible achievement, not an improbable one.” As of this writing, whether Frost will coach UCF’s bowl game is unknown.
The season isn’t over for UCF, who could potentially find themselves in a New Year’s Six bowl game, where they will have an opportunity to complete the full undefeated, 13-0 season.