The Missouri Tigers used a pair of big plays to outlast the UCF Knights and escape Bright House Networks Stadium with a 21-16 non-conference victory.
James Franklin completed 19-of-30 passes for 257 yards with an interception for Missouri (3-2) as it won on the road for the first time this season. Franklin also connected with Dorial Green-Beckham for a huge 80-yard pass play for a score and Marcus Murphy chipped in by returning a punt 66 yards across the goal line. Kendial Lawrence had a strong performance with 154 total yards and a touchdown.
Blake Bortles led UCF (2-2) with 267 yards and two touchdowns on 29-of-43 passing. Storm Johnson took 15 carries for 93 yards. The Knights’ defense recorded five sacks while stifling their opponent for the majority of the contest.
The Knights struck first as Shawn Moffitt drilled a field goal from 42 yards out to give them a 3-0 lead with 3:28 left in the first frame.
After being shutout in the opening quarter, Missouri took its first lead of the day as Franklin completed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham.
UCF answered on its ensuing possession as Bortles engineered a seven-play, 86- yard drive which ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Quincy McDuffie. Neither team managed to put any more points on the board before the intermission, which sent the Knights into the break leading, 10-7.
Missouri received help from its special teams unit as Murphy fielded a Jamie Boyle punt and produced an electrifying 66-yard return for a score. Murphy’s return put the Tigers ahead, 14-10, with just over seven minutes left to play in the third period.
A poor punt by Boyle gave Missouri great field position to start a drive in the opening stages of the fourth quarter. After an incompletion on the first play of the drive, Lawrence broke off a 33-yard run before rushing 10 yards for a score to give the Tigers a 21-10 advantage.
The Knights began to rally back behind the arm of Bortles. UCF moved 83 yards down the field on a five-play drive which was capped off by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Jeff Godfrey. The Knights elected to attempt a two-point conversion to make it a three-point game, but Bortles’s pass fell incomplete which left Missouri ahead, 21-16 with 4:34 left to play.
UCF had one final chance, but Godfrey fumbled near midfield and Missouri recovered to seal the win.
Despite the win, Missouri went 1-for-11 on third down conversions. The Knights were successful on 6-of-18 third downs.