UCF Football Soars Past Temple in Annual Space Game, 70-13

Box Score (PDF) | Postgame Notes | Press Conference

In its annual Space Game, the UCF football team played out of this world to rout the Temple Owls, 70-13, Thursday night at FBC Mortgage Stadium. The Knights' 70 points scored are the third most in program history and third most by an FBS team this season.

UCF moves to 5-1 on the year and 2-0 in American Athletic Conference play, while Temple falls to 2-4 and 0-2 in league action. The Knights remained unbeaten in their annual Space Game with a record of 6-0 following the win.

"I'm real pleased with our team," said UCF head coach Gus Malzahn. "I think we played our best football game tonight. Early on they moved the football, but our defense held them to field goals. Offensively, I thought we had some good rhythm early and had some good drives. Probably the key drive of the whole game was right before halftime. We were able to punch that in and give it some breathing room.

"Our defense played really well in the second half, I think they gave up around 90 yards and held another opponent under 20 points. I think that's the ninth in a row or something like that."

UCF's offense was firing on all cylinders in the game, recording 737 total yards – the second most by an FBS team in a single game this season behind Ohio State's 763 yards against Toledo. The Knights rushed for more than 300 yards for the second time this season and passed for 433 yards, the most in a game since Oct. 24, 2020, against Tulane when UCF had 422.

Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee had arguably one of the best performances of his career, as he tied the program record with seven touchdowns responsible for with four passing and three rushing. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native tied the mark set by former UCF standouts Darin Slack in 1987 and Daunte Culpepper in 1998. His seven touchdowns are the most by any player in the American Athletic Conference this season.

Plumlee threw for a career-high 373 yards on 18-for-22 passing and he rushed for 37 yards on seven attempts. He ignited the scoring for UCF in the contest, scoring from nine yards out to cap a 10-play, 74-yard drive in the first quarter to give the Knights a 7-3 lead.

After Temple scored to take a 10-7 advantage, Plumlee found the endzone for the second time on the day with a one-yard rush to help UCF regain the lead, 14-10.

"Our quarterback, he played extremely well," Malzahn added. "Not very many times I think, I've had an offense that had 400 yards passing and 300 yards rushing so I'm real proud. That team [Temple] had a real defense coming in, you know they were top 10 statistically in a lot of different categories, so I'm real pleased with our team."

The Knights scored 21 points in the second quarter to pull away and take a 35-13 lead into halftime, as UCF has led at the intermission in five of its six games this season. Isaiah Bowser found the endzone for the 10th time this season and Kobe Hudson recorded his first touchdown in a UCF uniform moments later. Plumlee's third rushing touchdown with five seconds remaining in the first half pushed the Knights' lead to 22 heading into halftime – its largest lead at halftime this season.

For the second consecutive game, Ryan O'Keefe surpassed 100 yards receiving, as he scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter and finished the game with 111 receiving yards. Hudson tallied a career high in receiving with 121 yards on four catches with a pair of touchdowns, his first career game with multiple touchdowns.

Plumlee closed out his day by throwing a touchdown pass on each of his last three throws with an 11-yard strike to O'Keefe, 68-yard pass to O'Keefe and 64-yard touchdown to Hudson. In the third quarter, Plumlee was 5-for-5 and threw for 198 yards with three touchdowns.

Freshman Thomas Castellanos took over for Plumlee late in the third quarter and was stellar in his fourth career game. He found the endzone for the first time in his young career on a 37-yard scamper in the fourth quarter to extend UCF's lead to 63-13. Castellanos finished the game with a career-best 88 rushing yards to lead all players in the game in addition to completing all six of his passes for 60 yards.

Jordan McDonald provided the final offense of the night with a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, as the freshman ended the game with nine carries for 44 yards and his first career touchdown.

Defensively, linebacker Jason Johnson led the Knights defense with nine tackles, including five solo stops with a tackle for loss and quarterback hurry. Josh Celiscar tallied six tackles, while Corey Thornton had five. Kicker Colton Boomer was a perfect 10-for-10 on PAT attempts, tying the program record set by Matthew Wright in 2017.

"We got better, that's what we talked about," said Malzahn. "We're at the halfway point now and we need to continue to keep the hammer down and getting better."

UCF will return to action next weekend when the Knights travel to East Carolina for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 22, from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The game will air live on ESPNU.