UCF led 10-7 midway through the second quarter at Missouri Saturday afternoon at Faurot Field. But the Tigers scored 31 straight to pull away for the 38-10 victory.
Turnovers hurt the Knights in the second half.
Trailing 14-10 late in the third quarter, UCF was driving. On 2nd-and-7 near midfield, quarterback Justin Holman's pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Josh Augusta. Four plays later, Missouri Maty Mauk hit Bud Sasser with a 20-yard touchdown pass and Missouri went up by two scores, 21-10.
"They came up with a pick and then the next play, we miss a tackle and they throw a touchdown pass," UCF head coach George O'Leary said. "I thought from that point on, that's when the floodgates opened up a little bit."
Senior linebacker Terrance Plummer agreed.
"The momentum changed," Plummer said. "I felt like when we came out of halftime, we had the momentum. We stopped them twice on third down. Unfortunately, we threw ... the interception and they got a big play on third down. Those things. That's what's killing us right now. The good thing is we finally get a home game."
O'Leary said he saw some improvement, despite the final score.
"The pass rush improved from the last game," O'Leary continued. "The coverage was better. We hurt ourselves field position-wise. Some of the scores there, we have to make plays when we have the opportunity."
The Knights turned the ball over four times in the game, while forcing just one Missouri giveaway. UCF put up 299 yards of total offense, while Missouri compiled 322.
Missouri added a pair of fourth-quarter scores, accounting for the final tally. Meanwhile, the Knights were unable to light up the scoreboard in the second half.
"We just let too many things happen to us that went the other way for the other team," Plummer said. "Missed tackles. Third down. We've got to get better on third down as a defense."
The Tigers got on the board first, taking advantage of a short field. An 11-yard TD pass from Maty Mauk to Jimmie Hunt capped the 40-yard drive.
But the Knights scored the next 10 points.
UCF drove 73 yards to get a 19-yard field goal from Shawn Moffitt and trailed 7-3 at the end of the first period.
Following a Jacoby Glenn interception and 31-yard return, UCF hit paydirt early in the second quarter. On fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Holman found Will Stanback on a swing pass in the right flat. Stanback walked in from there and the Knights led 10-7.
Missouri regained the lead with 6:12 left in the first half. A 14-play, 75-yard drive was capped by a Mauk-to-Hunt 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-10 at the intermission.
Holmann passed for 209 yards and one score, completing 22 of 36 tosses with a pair of interceptions. Stanback was the Knights' top rusher with 33 yards. Rannell Hall led the receivers with eight catches for 73 yards. Terrance Plummer paced the UCF defense with 12 tackles, including 11 solo stops.
The Knights are back in action again next Saturday (Sept. 20) for the home opener at Bright House Networks Stadium. UCF will host Bethune-Cookman at 6 p.m. ET.