ORLANDO, Fla. – There is something about UCF that brings the best out of Tulsa.
Zach Smith threw three touchdown passes and Tulsa erased an 18-point first-half deficit to beat No. 11 UCF 34-26, snapping the Knights' 21-game home winning streak Saturday night.
The Golden Hurricane (1-1) made it two straight wins over UCF (2-1), which was plagued by penalties (18 for 124 yards) and turned the ball over three times.
“New year, new season,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “We’ve got a lot of talent on this football team. On the road in a tough environment … I’m proud of these guys for sticking together. We’ve always been a gritty, tough, hard-nosed football team and we proved that again tonight.”
Smith threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Keylon Stokes to give Tulsa a 31-26 lead with 12:56 remaining. Zack Long added a 34-yard field goal with 1:30 remaining to make it 34-26.
UCF (2-1) drove into Tulsa territory, but after a holding penalty pushed the Knights out of the red zone Dillon Gabriel’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete.
Gabriel was 28-of-51 for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“There were opportunities in the game that we didn’t take advantage of,” Gabriel said. “I put this on me. There has to be better QB play. I have to execute at a higher level.”