Freshman Gabriel leads UCF past Florida Atlantic
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Central Florida’s Dillon Gabriel made his completions count.
The freshman went 7 for 19 in his first start but threw touchdown throws of 57 and 74 yards, and No. 18 UCF extended its regular-season winning streak to 24 games by easing past Florida Atlantic 48-14 Saturday night.
Gabriel also connected on passes of 45 and 32 yards, which more than made up for his frequent misfires. The left-hander totaled 245 yards passing — 35 per completion — and ran four times for 19 yards and a score.
The Knights (2-0) totaled 574 yards and reached the 30-point mark for the 28th game in a row, the longest such streak since at least 1936.
Florida Atlantic (0-2) disappointed a home crowd of 30,811, largest in the program’s history. The Owls have never beaten a Top 25 team in 15 tries.
The game was called because of lightning in the area with 4:20 to play.
Running back Adrian Killins Jr. scored one touchdown rushing and another receiving. Otis Anderson had the Knights’ longest run when he juked past a safety for a 39-yard score.
UCF needed less than six minutes to take a 14-0 lead, and by halftime the margin was 28-6, even though Gabriel had completed just three passes.
He sealed the outcome midway through the third quarter with a completion to Killins, who was open by 10 yards at midfield and weaved past four defenders to the end zone for a 74-yard score.
UCF sacked Chris Robison four times and stopped the Owls on third down 14 times. The Knights led 48-6 before allowing a touchdown for the first time this season.
Gabriel started after coming off the bench to throw three touchdown passes last week against Florida A&M. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush, who started the opener, did not play.
The Knights gained 120 yards in the first 5½ minutes to take a 14-0 lead. They drove 75 yards in seven plays for their first score, and after a blocked punt, Gabriel hit Jacob Harris deep for a 57-yard touchdown.
After their 62-0 season-opening win last week, the Knights dropped one spot in the poll. That probably won’t happen again.
UCF: The Knights weren’t tested but remain on schedule for another banner season.
FAU: The Owls, playing a ranked team at home for the first time in the program’s history, weren’t ready for a breakthrough win.
Ex-NFLers Ray Lewis and Edgerrin James watched from the FAU sideline.
UCF: The Knights have an opportunity to answer criticism about a perennially soft schedule when they play at home next Saturday against No. 23 Stanford.
FAU: After facing ranked teams in the first two games, Florida Atlantic plays at Ball State (1-1) on Saturday.