ORLANDO, Fla. -- — It did not take long for UCF to find its groove after losing starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to an injury late in last week's win over Boise State.
Timmy McClain and the Knights got to work early and dominated Villanova 48-14 onSaturday night to close their non-conference schedule as they look ahead to their first conference game as members of the Big 12 next week at Kansas State.
The Knights already had a 24-0 lead when McClain found Javon Baker in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown.
McClain tallied 321 pass yards and two touchdowns for the Knights, adding an additional 44 rush yards. He stepped in for Plumlee, who is expected to miss the next several weeks with a leg injury.
McClain had plenty of help offensively. Sophomore running back Jordan McDonald scored the first two rushing touchdowns of his career in the first quarter and R.J. Harvey led the Knights' group of rushers with 85 yards on 14 attempts with two touchdown scores as well.
Villanova struggled to get much going throughout the game against UCF's stout defense. The Wildcats tallied only three first downs and 38 total yards by halftime. Villanova finished with 228 total yards and did not score until the fourth quarter.
UCF entered Saturday's game 15th in the nation giving up 11.0 points per game and 45th in the nation giving up 311.5 yards per game through their first two games of the season. The defense did not let down against Villanova.
Villanova did not get past the 50-yard line until the third quarter. They scored early in the fourth quarter on a two-yard touchdown run from quarterback Connor Watkins, his third rushing touchdown of the season. Running back TD Ayo-Durojaiye added an 11-yard touchdown run with less than five minutes to play.
UCF set up one score thanks to a Nikai Martinez interception that he returned 42 yards to Villanova’s two-yard line. McDonald scored from a yard out for his second score of the game and a 17-0 lead. The Knights added two sacks for good measure to keep the Wildcats in check.
The Knights have not shut out an opponent since a 62-0 shutout win over Florida A&M to open the 2019 season. They previously gave up six points in their season-opening win over Kent State this season.
Last week, Watkins set a school record for the fewest completions in a 300-yard game, completing 8 of 11 passes for 310 yards and two scores in a 42-19 win over Colgate.
The UCF defense was decidedly tougher to crack.
Watkins went just 9 for 23 for 144 yards (including 1 for 9 for one yard in the first half). That left a high-powered Villanova offense that averaged 40 points per game in its first two games of the season grounded on the road.
UCF will open its first season in the Big 12 with a trip to face Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday.
Villanova will host Rhode Island on Saturday.