UCF football vs. East Carolina: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Knights battle Pirates

McKenzie Milton #10 of the UCF Knights looks to pass in the second half against the Auburn Tigers during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
McKenzie Milton #10 of the UCF Knights looks to pass in the second half against the Auburn Tigers during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Central Florida escaped with a victory on the road last weekend after trailing by as many as 16 points and looks to avoid a letdown while extending its nation-best winning streak to 20 games when it visits East Carolina on Saturday night. The ninth-ranked Knights shut out Memphis in the second half and rallied for a 31-30 victory to remain one of three unbeaten teams in the American Athletic Conference East Division.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: UCF -21

 

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UCF joins Cincinnati and South Florida at 6-0 overall and Temple is also unbeaten in division play, but the Knights must focus first on an East Carolina team that is among the national leaders in sacks with 22 and tackles for loss per game (10.2). “On tape, they play harder than we’ve seen on defense,” Central Florida coach Josh Heupel told reporters. “They get 11 guys running to the football on every snap. They have two ends that can get after the quarterback and create negative plays in the run game. That’s a huge test for us up front.” The Pirates can create havoc in the backfield, but they have not sustained it the last few weeks after giving up a total of 91 points in losses to Temple and Houston. East Carolina, which goes for its 13th straight Homecoming Day win, is also hoping for better results on the other side of the ball and coach Scottie Montgomery announced he will give Holton Ahlers his first start at quarterback after the freshman accounted for 182 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 42-20 loss to Houston.

ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (6-0, 3-0 American)

Junior quarterback McKenzie Milton threw for 296 yards along with a touchdown last week and has totaled 22 scores this season - six on the ground - while completing almost 60 percent of his passes. Milton has three dangerous receivers with sophomores Gabriel Davis (33 catches, 493 yards, five TDs) and Tre Nixon (23, 343, three), along with junior Dredrick Snelson (23, 303, two), and junior Adrian Killins Jr. leads the way on the ground (385 yards). Sophomore defensive back Richie Grant leads the team with 54 tackles and three interceptions while senior defensive end Titus Davis has a team-best eight tackles for loss.

ABOUT EAST CAROLINA (2-4, 0-3)

Ahlers completed 11-of-18 passes for 137 yards and rushed for 45 of his team-best 248 in the loss to Houston after replacing sophomore Reid Herring (six touchdown passes, seven interceptions). “Holton does not have a leash this week,” Montgomery told reporters. “I am taking that off. He will play as long and hard as he can. With (Ahlers), we all have to realize that there will be some bad plays in there but also some really good ones. We will have to work through it.” Senior defensive end Nate Harvey leads the nation with 2.9 tackles-for-loss and 1.42 sacks per contest for the Pirates, who have also gotten four sacks from junior lineman Kendall Futrell.

EXTRA POINTS

1. East Carolina senior WR Trevon Brown needs two receptions to move past Jason Nichols (152) for fourth in school history.

2. Milton is 208 yards from becoming the third UCF player to reach 9,000 in total offense.

3. The Pirates lead the all-time series 10-6, but the Knights have won the last two meetings after a 63-21 win last year.

PREDICTION: Central Florida 48, East Carolina 21

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