Central Florida went up 10-7 with 4:38 remaining in the second quarter, but the Houston Cougars scored 17 points in the final 2:27 of the first half and carried that halftime lead into a 59-10 victory over the Knights on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The No. 21 Cougars raised their season record to 7-0 and 4-0 in American Athletic Conference play.
Houston scored 1:14 into the game when Brandon Wilson stripped the ball from Shawn Moffitt and return it 85 yards for the first touchdown of the game. The Knights answered with a touchdown, extra point, and field goal to take a 10-7 lead with 4:38 remaining in the first half. At that point, the Cougars pushed on the accelerator and racked up 52 unanswered point for the win. In the final 2:27 of the first half, Houston scored on a 26-yard run by Kenneth Farrow, a three-yard run by Greg Ward, Jr. and two Ty Cummings extra points and a34-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
Farrow came back and scored twice in the second half on runs of 30 and 24 yards. Demarcus Ayers added a passing TD to his season total on a 67-yard pass from Ward, Jr. Ryan Jackson added a rushing score on a 29-yard run and Linell Bonner caught a six-yard pass from Kyle Postma to round out the Cougar’s scoring. Houston racked up 600 yards of total offense, based on a balanced running and throwing assault.
With the win, head coach Tom Herman remains as the second coach in UH history to win the first seven games of his career. John Jenkins, who coached the Cougars from 1990 to 1992 won eight consecutive game in his first year. The 7-0 start is Houston’s best since 2011, when Kevin Sumlin’s team went 12-0.
Ward, Jr. continued his record setting season, by throwing for 201 yards while carrying the ball for 46 yards. With his 46 rushing yards, Ward, Jr. increased his team rushing record for a quarterback to 1,426 yards. With his one rushing TD against UCF, he took the lead nationally with 15 rushing scores this season; passing Leonard Fourette of LSU, who currently has 14.
Herman, who now has the Cougars 4-0 in conference play, spoke to the press after the game, and was quoted in a distributed press release from the Office of Athletic Communications concerning Houston’s performance:
“Great team win. I thought both sides of the ball came out very sluggish, which is very uncharacteristic of us. I’m not sure why that happened. For six weeks that never happened. We gave up a bunch of yards in the first quarter and that was disappointing. The offense didn’t handle the pressure nearly as well as what we had planned on doing. But the good thing again was that the defense forced three turnovers there in the first half, one for a touchdown. When you win the turnover battle four to nothing you’re going to have a chance to win the game. I’m really proud, though, of how both sides of the ball, the whole team really, responded to that adversity. We were down 10-7 going into the second quarter and the defense, offense, and special teams really responded, got their act together, and had a much more laser-like focus, especially in the second and third quarter. We kind of got things going from there.”
The Cougars will attempt to go 8-0 in 2015 when they face off on Halloween evening against the Vanderbilt Commodores at TDECU Stadium in Houston. The Commodores are 3-4 after a 10-3 win over the Missouri Tigers.