UCF Takes Gasparilla Bowl Win In Tampa, 29-17, Versus Florida Gators

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Florida supremacy goes to the UCF Knights.

The Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl game between the Florida Gators and UCF Knights was a bragging rights matchup that went UCF’s way, 29-17.

With several headlines pertaining to Saturday’s game, and some focusing on the future in Florida, the Gators’ performance in Tampa under interim coach Greg Knox seemed like an absentminded effort — which doesn’t negate solid execution on both sides of the ball for UCF.

The Knight brought the pressure on backup-turned-starter Emory Jones early. Cam Goode got things started by chasing down Jones for the sack with 8:45 left in the first.

After a 10-9 advantage by the Gators heading into halftime, the UCF offense made their impact with a strong third quarter. The Knights offense found their stride with 17 points scored in the period.

A 19-yard touchdown by Malik Davis put Florida up 17-16 in the third with eight minutes to go before the Knights went up with a field goal, 19-17, and pulled away with a 54-yard touchdown when UCF quarterback Mikey Keene connected with Ryan O’Keefe.

The night’s standout was O’Keefe, accruing 110 yards rushing and 85 yards receiving on eight catches. O’Keefe also added a pivotal 74-yard catch as a precursor to the productive third quarter for UCF.

Mikey Keene finished with 144 yards on 14 of 22 passing and a touchdown.

UCF bested Florida on the ground — the Gators racking up 208 rushing yards against the Knights’ 288 yards. Knights running back Isaiah Bowser ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries.

For the Gators, the absence of AR-15 was apparent in Emory Jones’ errors. Jones threw for 171 yards, completing 14-of-36. For a Gators team transitioning from one coaching staff to another, the Gators ultimately seemed out of focus with Saturday’s game and fixated on what comes next.

Florida now looks to Billy Napier to start a new regime, while UCF and head coach Gus Malzahn relish in their in-state crown victory.

Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

Written by Alejandro Avila

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