UCF passing attack too much for Akron in 38-7 win
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Blake Bortles had three touchdown passes and threw for a career-high 314 yards as UCF blew past Akron 38-7 on Thursday night.
Storm Johnson added 99 yards rushing and two scores as the Knights won their eighth consecutive season-opener and second straight over the Zips.
It was the first 300-yard passing game of Bortles’ career and the first by a Knights’ quarterback since 2009.
Akron dropped its 10th straight game, dating back to last season.
The Zips put pressure on Bortles, but never got traction on offense and had a pair of turnovers. Akron also struggled on third down in the first half (2 of 6) and failed to keep UCF’s secondary off balance despite its hurry-up attack.
Just about everything went right for the Knights in their first outing of the season.
Bortles found three different receivers for scores in a first half that saw the Knights punt on only two of their six possessions.
The junior quarterback survived a near disaster when he was stripped as he drew his arm back to throw on the game’s opening play. He fell on the ball, though, and on the next snap Bortles’ hit a streaking Breshad Perriman in the middle of the field with his first actual pass of the night.
Akron had its best drive of the half on its first possession, but it ended with a punt right after the Zips past midfield.
UCF quickly went back to work as Bortles led the Knights on a 12-play, 91-yard drive that was capped with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Rannell Hall. The drive also featured a 20-yard scramble by Bortles, mixed in with several elusive runs by Johnson.
The Knights’ lead grew to three touchdowns early in the second quarter on another long Bortles’ pass, this time a 39-yard strike J.J. Worton, which made it 21-0. Bortles managed to hit Worton in stride despite being on the run and throwing across his body.
The Zips’ offense tried to keep up its fast-paced no-huddle attack throughout the half, but managed just 83 total yards in the opening 30 minutes, including one turnover. The handful of drives that did show some traction were all stunted on third down.
Their defense did at times get some pressure on Bortles — producing three sacks — but still gave up 310 yards to the Knights.
Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl was 16 of 28 for 98 yards and an interception in his first-career start.
The Zips’ lone score came late in the game with junior backup Nick Hirschman under center.
The Knights are on the road next at Florida International. Akron opens its home schedule against James Madison.