UCF scores 31 unanswered points, beats SMU in AAC opener

Oct 5, 2022, 7:49 AM | Updated: 7:54 pm

Central Florida coach Gus Malzahn, left, and SMU coach Rhett Lashlee talk before an NCAA college football game Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel via AP)

(Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — John Rhys Plumlee threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the second half to Ryan O’Keefe, and UCF scored 31 unanswered points to beat SMU 41-19 on Wednesday night in a game postponed because of tropical weather.

UCF trailed 13-10 at halftime before scoring four touchdowns in the second half.

O’Keefe made a diving catch in the end zone on a 26-yard throw to extend UCF’s lead to 24-13 with 3:07 left in the third quarter. O’Keefe added a 58-yard touchdown early in the fourth on a shuffle-pass jet sweep.

O’Keefe finished with six catches for 117 yards and two scores, and Javon Baker added 138 yards receiving for UCF (4-1, 1-0 American Athletic Conference). Isaiah Bowser had three short touchdown runs.

The UCF defense made three keys plays. Jason Johnson recovered a fumble on SMU’s first possession of the game, Divaad Wilson made an interception to end the first half and Tre’mon Morris-Brash sacked Tanner Mordecai in the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter.

Mordecai was 28 of 45 for 295 yards with one interception for SMU (2-3, 0-1). Rashee Rice, who entered leading the nation in receiving yards per game at 141.2, had 12 catches for 122 yards.

The game was rescheduled twice due to Hurricane Ian. It was initially scheduled to be played Saturday at UCF’s on-campus stadium before shifting to Sunday.

COACHING CONNECTION

UCF coach Gus Malzahn guided new SMU coach Rhett Lashlee in high school at Shiloh Christian in Arkansas from 1999-01. Lashlee also served as an offensive coordinator at Auburn under Malzahn.

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