MIAMI (AP) — The scoreboard found it difficult to keep up with Central Florida, malfunctioning early in the game when it showed the Knights leading Florida International 87-0.
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Although the game wasn’t quite that lopsided, Blake Bortles threw for 219 yards and one touchdown and the Knights improved to 2-0 for only the second time since 1999 by winning 38-0 Friday night.
“We did some good things on offense,” Bortles said. “It was a good performance, a good win.”.
Storm Johnson ran for 89 yards and three scores. Florida International (0-2) totaled 173 yards, averaged 1.1 yards per rush and was shut out for the first time since 2008.
Bortles went 12 for 19 in three quarters of work. He also ran for 22 yards and a touchdown, and didn’t commit a turnover.
Rannell Hall made four catches for 127 yards, all in the first half to help Central Florida built a 24-0 lead.
“You’ve got to stay on top of people and keep your foot on the gas, and I thought we did,” coach George O’Leary said.
The Knights avenged a September loss at Florida International two years ago that sent their season into a tailspin.
“That was a sour taste in our mouths,” Bortles said. “We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again, and we took care of business.”.
The Knights, who face Penn State next, have outscored their opponents 76-7. Florida International has been outscored 81-10.
“One thing we are not going to do is we are not going to panic,” first-year Panthers coach Ron Turner said. “We believe in our team, believe in our players. We have to stay the course.”.
Bleacher seats shook from fans stomping their feet, but the Panthers couldn’t rattle the Knights. Florida International went three-and-out on its first three possessions and didn’t register a first down until the second quarter.
The Panthers converted only three of 15 third-down situations, and little else went right. Cheerleaders tried to toss souvenir T-shirts into the stands during timeouts and had trouble reaching the first row.
Bortles was efficient from the start. He ran for a first down on third and 15, then capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown. He threw long to Hall for a 59-yard gain to set up the final TD of the first half.
Johnson, a University of Miami transfer, scored on runs of 2, 15 and 2 yards.
Freshman quarterback Justin Holman played the fourth quarter for Central Florida after junior backup Tyler Gabbert quit the team during the week to concentrate on school.
“Justin did well,” O’Leary said. “I put him in tonight because he’s going to have to be the backup for the rest of the year.”.
Central Florida’s Troy Gray recovered a fumble at the Panthers 17 following an errant snap to set up Johnson’s third touchdown run.
“There are always things you can iron out and improve on,” Gray said. “But I think as a defense we’re doing the right things and in the right spots.”.
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