The UCF football team completed its perfect season with a 34-27 win over Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“I’m so happy for these guys,” UCF head coach Scott Frost said. “I told them in the locker room, this was an 0-12 group when I got there, and they looked like they weren’t having any fun and didn’t care about each other. We had a long way to go, and to think that they are sitting here Peach Bowl champions and 13-0 in two years, I couldn’t be happier for them.”
UCF finished the 2017 campaign with a 13-0 record, the only team to go undefeated in the 2017 campaign.
After both teams posted three-and-outs to open the game, Auburn (10-4) was the first to put points on the board. The Tigers hit a field goal in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead.
After a 33-yard field goal from Matthew Wright evened the score in the second quarter, the UCF defense swung the momentum in favor of the Knights. A.J. Wooten stripped the ball from Jarrett Stidham at the 49-yard line. Tre Neal scooped the ball up, returning it 36 yards to set up the offense on the Auburn 21-yard line.
Two plays later, quarterback McKenzie Milton ran the ball in from 18 yards out to give UCF a 10-3 edge.
Each team added a field goal in the second quarter to give the Knights a 13-6 advantage going into the locker rooms.
Auburn made it 13-all just 43 seconds in to the third quarter, and took a 20-13 lead with 7:46 left in the third frame.
The Knights, who were forced to punt on back-to-back possessions to open the third quarter, locked in offensively. Milton completed 26-, 19- and 12-yard passes to Jordan Akins, Tre’Quan Smith and Otis Anderson, respectively. Anderson collected his pass in the end zone, and Matthew Wright converted the kick to send the teams into the fourth quarter tied at 20-20.
“We kind of came out sleepwalking, throwing the ball in the air,” Milton said. “I don’t know if it was the big lights or the big Jumbotron. I think we kind of started hitting our stride later in the second quarter and then in the third and fourth quarter we started rolling.”
Milton, who recorded the first 100-yard rushing game of his collegiate career, ran a trio of times before finding Dredrick Snelson for his second passing touchdown of the game.
Leading 27-20 with just under seven minutes left in the game, the UCF defense showed its fierceness once again. Chequan Burkett collected his first career interception, returning it 45 yards to add six points to the board for the Knights. Wright again converted the extra point to give UCF a 34-20 advantage with 5:56 remaining.
After the Tigers responded with a touchdown to make it 34-27, Auburn regained possession of the ball with just over two minutes left on the clock. Marching down the field, the Tigers moved the chains all the way down to the UCF 21-yard line. Antwan Collier ended the Auburn drive, pulling in his first collegiate interception to preserve UCF’s perfect season.