The UCF football team’s first game of the 2021 season with new head coach Gus Malzahn turned out to be worth the wait.

After enduring a 2-hour-and-41-minute lightning delay that pushed back kickoff to 9:46 p.m., the Knights rallied to a 36-31 win in their long awaited matchup against Boise State.

The game technically stretched over two days to complete, wrapping up at 1:26 a.m. Friday in front of a still lively crowd in the stands to witness the victory.

The Knights overcame a 21-0 first-half deficit — matching a program record — and scored 23 consecutive points to earn the victory.

“I think the whole college football world saw it,” Malzahn said after the game. “You go down by 21-0 at home against a really good team and to fight back, keep believing, making plays and answering the bell again — they just kept doing it and you could feel it on the sidelines. There wasn’t any panic. I’m really proud of our staff too. Our staff did a really good job. Overall, it was a really, really quality victory that will help us moving forward.”

Gus Malzahn points to a fan during the Knight Walk to the stadium
UCF head coach Gus Malzahn leads the team off the bus for the Knight Walk to the stadium. (Photo courtesy of Mark Godin, UCF Athletics)
Two women pose with a UCF flag on Memory Mall
Thursday’s game also marked the return of tailgating on the main campus after COVID-19 capped attendance for the 2020 season. (Photo by Nick Leyva ’15)
UCF cheerleaders wave pom poms on East Plaza Drive
KnightMoves and the UCF cheer team led the March to Victory. (Photo by Nick Leyva ’15)
UCF football players leave the tunnel to run out to the field with fireworks shooting off
The Knights take the field in front of its largest crowd after weathering a lightning delay. (Photo courtesy of Mark Godin, UCF Athletics)
Tight end Max Holler holds up the hand signal for safety on the sidelines
Tight end Max Holler signals “safety” after Boise State flubbed a snap early in the fourth quarter that added to UCF’s lead, 30-24.  (Photo courtesy of Mark Godin, UCF Athletics)
wide photo of the crowd at the Bounce House
Just in time for the first game of the year, UCF announced Thursday it sold its entire allotment of football season tickets for the second time in three years. (Photo courtesy of Mark Godin, UCF Athletics)
A group of football players cheer on the sidelines
UCF gets hyped on the sidelines as the Knights mount a comeback. (Photo courtesy of Mark Godin, UCF Athletics)
Gus Malzahn interacts with fans in the stands as he enters the tunnel
UCF head coach Gus Malzahn thanks fans for their dedication to sticking out the weather and the game until its late end. (Photo by Nick Leyva ’15)
Football players celebrate in the locker room
UCF celebrates in the locker room after going 1-0. (Photo courtesy of Godwin, UCF Athletics)
Gus Malzahn holds up a football in celebration with Terry Mohajir standing next to him in locker room
UCF head coach Gus Malzahn is presented with the game ball by Terry Mohajir, UCF vice president and director of athletics. (Photo courtesy of Mark Godin, UCF Athletics)