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(Thursday, August 30th)
Final Score: UCF 56, Akron 14
Akron, OH (Sports Network) - Blake Bortles tossed three touchdown passes as the UCF Knights kicked their season off in electrifying fashion, defeating the Akron Zips 56-14 at InfoCision Stadium.
Bortles was impressive in his first career start, completing 13 of his 16 passes for 168 yards for the Knights (1-0). Two of his scores went to Rannell Hall who caught four balls for 94 yards. Latavius Murray had 14 carries for 108 yards for his fourth career 100-yard game. Storm Johnson rushed for a pair of touchdowns in his UCF debut as well.
For Akron (0-1), Dalton Williams went 30-of-50 for 245 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. L.T. Smith and Marquelo Suel each had seven receptions and a touchdown.
UCF got the scoring started on its first drive. After Murray carried the ball six times for 68 yards on the drive - highlighted by a 43-yard run - Bortles connected with Chris Martin on a five-yard touchdown strike to give the Knights a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
The Knights extended their lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter following a 10-play, 80-yard drive, punctuated by a two-yard touchdown run by Murray.
Later in the frame the Zips fumbled deep in their own territory, giving the ball to UCF inside their own 10-yard line. Johnson capitalized with a two-yard touchdown run to bring the Knights' lead to 21-0 with 8:06 remaining in the first half.
The Knights' scoring onslaught continued with 3:03 left in the first half when Bortles found Hall for an 18-yard passing strike to make it 28-0.
With just 41 seconds remaining before the break, Akron tried to run out the clock deep in its own territory, but another fumble gave the ball back to the Knights. Once again, Johnson took advantage of a very short field, rushing in for a three-yard score to extend the lead to 35-0 at the half.
Akron started the second half with the ball and proceeded to drive 80 yards down the field. A much-needed 13-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Smith put the Zips on the scoreboard, 35-7.
Another Bortles-to-Hall touchdown connection - this time for 56 yards - made the score 42-7 with 5:28 left in the third quarter.
Backup quarterback Tyler Gabbert spelled Bortles late in the third quarter, and his first career pass was a 12-yard touchdown strike to Rob Calabrese to give UCF a 49-7 lead.
With 9:01 left in the game, Suel was on the receiving end of Williams' second touchdown pass, bringing the score to 49-14.
UCF added one more score at the 1:18 mark on a Cedric Thompson four-yard touchdown run.
Though Akron committed just three penalties on the night, it turned the ball over four times and rushed for just 69 yards.
The outcome marks the first time UCF has ever defeated the Zips in Akron.
08/30 23:12:15 ET