UCF Runs Past Buffalo

WR Tavaris Capers

ORLANDO -- Behind a career rushing day for tailback Alex Haynes and a steady performance by first-time starter Jon Rivera, the UCF Golden Knights (2-3, 1-1 MAC) defeated Buffalo (0-6, 0-2 MAC) 19-10 Saturday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

UCF 19, Buffalo 10 (AP Story)          Box Score           Photo Gallery

UCF did not follow the typical Golden Knight script. The 298 rushing yards as a team were the second most under current head coach Mike Kruczek, but the 59 passing yards, 14 passing attempts and six completions are a low under him during his coaching tenure. Kruczek has been the head coach at UCF since the 1998 season.

Haynes finished with career-highs in yards (169) and attempts (30) while Rivera totaled 89 yards rushing on 15 carries.

Buffalo scored first after a UCF turnover at the goaline. On a drive extended by a roughing the kicker penalty, the Bulls drove 54 yards in ten plays and scored on a 43-yard field goal by Dallas Pelz to put Buffalo up 3-0.

Haynes and Rivera continued to run the ball effectively. Haynes exploded off right tackle and gained 26 yards, and on the following play running back Dee Brown broke through the middle and 26 yards later found the end zone. The touchdown was the first by UCF in the first quarter this year and the longest of Brown's career. The point after was blocked, giving UCF a 6-3 lead.

Buffalo answered the UCF score with a touchdown of its own. After a 62-yard gain by tailback Dave Dawson, quarterback P.J. Piskorik dove in from a yard out to put Buffalo back up 10-6.

After a Buffalo turnover with 1:58 left in the quarter, Matt Prater connected on a 38-yard field goal to end the half and give UCF a 12-10 lead into the locker room.

UCF drove down the field to begin the third quarter, but Alex Haynes was stuffed on fourth down at the Buffalo nine-yard line to end the scoring threat.

Following the change of possession, the Golden Knight defense held and forced the Bulls to punt. Tavaris Capers found a seam in the coverage and returned the punt 52 yards for a touchdown, his first career touchdown on a punt return. The score extended UCF's lead to nine, 19-10.

UCF's defense then became the star. The defense allowed Buffalo only four first downs in the second half and 55 total yards as they helped UCF seal the victory.

The Golden Knights travel to Athens, Ohio next Saturday for a game against Ohio. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
 

UCF Game Notes
Buffalo at UCF
October 4, 2003


For the first time under head coach Mike Kruczek, UCF rushed for over 200 yards in a half. The 201 rushing yards in the first half also marked just the fifth game during the Kruczek era that UCF totaled over 200 rushing yards as a team.

The Golden Knights totaled a Citrus Bowl record under Kruczek of 298 rushing yards.

Most Team Rushing Yards Under Kruczek
Date Opponent Yards
Nov. 13, 1999 at Middle Tennessee State 323
Oct. 4, 2003 Buffalo 298
Nov. 16, 2002 Kent State 246
Oct. 31, 1998 Youngstown State 228
Oct. 13, 2001 Liberty 216

UCF passed for just 59 team yards, marking the first time under Kruczek that UCF failed to throw for 100 yards. It also marked just the second time in the Kruczek era that UCF failed to reach 200 yards passing. The Golden Knights threw for just 157 yards last season in a loss at Arizona State.

Alex Haynes set new career-highs with 30 carries for 165 yards. His previous high for rushing yards was 156 yards last year at Miami (Ohio).

Haynes moved into third place in career rushing at UCF with 2,184 yards.

Jon Rivera made his first career start at quarterback for the Golden Knights. The start for Rivera snapped a string of 34 consecutive starts for Ryan Schneider at quarterback for UCF.

Rivera finished six-of-14 passing for 59 yards. He also rushed 15 times for 89 yards.

Schneider's streak of 34 straight starts at quarterback was the third longest in school history. Darin Hinshaw (1991-94) is the school record holder with 37 consecutive starts behind center.

Tavaris Capers returned a punt for a 52-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The punt return for a touchdown was the first of Capers' career.

The punt return for a touchdown was the first for UCF since last season when Alphonzo Hopkins returned a blocked punt two yards for a touchdown at Miami (Ohio). The last time UCF returned a punt for a touchdown without blocking the kick was Nov. 21, 1998, when Siaha Burley returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown vs. New Mexico.

Alex Haynes rushed for 105 yards on 13 carries in the first half for his ninth career 100-yard game. Haynes is now third in school history with nine 100-yard games and it was the first 100-yard rushing game in 2003 for Haynes and UCF.

Dee Brown's 26-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was UCF's first touchdown of the season in the first quarter. The 26-yard scoring run was also Brown's longest touchdown run of his career.

Luther Huggins returned UCF's longest kickoff return of the season with a 68-yard return in the second quarter. The 68-yard return was the second-longest in Huggins' career. He had an 80-yard kickoff vs. Akron in 2001.

 


Post Game Quotes


UCF Head Coach Mike Kruczek
On the victory:
"A win is a win. The objective is to win, whether it is by 45 or by one, it's to win. Our objective was to leave here tonight 2-3. It doesn't matter how many you win by, or how pretty it is. From here on out we're going to try and win any way we can."

On improvements made in this game:
"We cut our turnovers down to one and that's a major improvement. We cut our penalties down considerably and our defense continues to play better. Our running game is better as well, but we still need to improve in some other areas."

On the adjustments made by the coaching staff with respect to the quarterback position:
"We told Jon [Rivera] to put us in a position to win. Take the snap, don't fumble the snap, get the ball to our running backs and when we called it, complete passes. He did his job tonight."

On the defense:
"I thought they did a remarkable job. They're gaining confidence each and every week. They made strides in the second half last week and with this performance it'll help us going into this week."

Buffalo Head Coach Jim Hofher
On the game:
"We've got to get ourselves into competitive situations, and then we'll be able to take the next step and get ourselves a win. I thought that our team played outstanding for most of the game, but we just had some mistakes in the second half that hurt us. I feel like the past two weeks we've been in a position to win, we're knocking on the door, and soon we'll bang through it."

On the special teams play:
"Our special teams were special tonight, except for the touchdown we allowed on the punt return. We blocked two kicks and also forced a couple of misses, and that gave us chances."
 

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