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Highlights, key plays and photos from No. 16 BYU’s 49-23 win over UCF in Boca Raton Bowl

The Cougars roll to the bowl win by showing off an explosive passing attack while keeping UCF’s offense from getting into a rhythm.

SHARE Highlights, key plays and photos from No. 16 BYU’s 49-23 win over UCF in Boca Raton Bowl

Brigham Young Cougars running back Lopini Katoa (4) makes a diving catch against the UCF Knights during the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla., on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

BYU UCF scoring sum

Scoring summary:

BYU 49, UCF 23

First quarter

BYU, Zach Wilson 15-yard run (13:11), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Isaac Rex 36-yard pass from Zach Wilson (11:10), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Zach Wilson 4-yard run (0:25), Jake Oldroyd kick

Second quarter

UCF, Greg McCrae 5-yard run (10:11), Daniel Obarski kick

BYU, Isaac Rex 27-yard pass from Zach Wilson (7:11), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Neil Pau’u 35-yard pass from Zach Wilson (3:31), Jake Oldroyd kick

UCF, Daniel Obarski 35-yard field goal (0:19)

Third quarter

BYU, Tyler Allgeier 39-yard run (13:11), Jake Oldroyd kick

BYU, Gunner Romney 6-yard run (9:31), Jake Oldroyd kick

UCF, Jacob Harris 21-yard pass from Dillon Gabriel (0:05), Daniel Obarski kick

Fourth quarter

UCF, Jaylon Robinson 9-yard pass from Dillon Gabriel (7:53), pass failed

BYU dominated from start to finish in beating UCF 49-23 in the Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on Tuesday.

The No. 16 Cougars never trailed, as their offense rolled up a bowl record 655 yards of total offense and BYU’s defense kept a normally explosive Knights offense in check much of the night in Boca Raton, Fla.

The win gives the Cougars (11-1) their first 11-win season since 2009.

3 takeaways

Zach Wilson puts on a show

BYU junior quarterback Zach Wilson had another brilliant outing, like he’s done all season long. Against the Knights (6-4), Wilson completed 26 of 34 passes for a Boca Raton Bowl record 425 yards and three touchdowns. That included Wilson completing 17 of 21 passes in the first half as BYU took a 35-10 halftime lead.

Wilson added two first-half rushing touchdowns and finished with 12 rushing yards, while adding 16 receiving yards on a trick play. All totaled, Wilson accounted for 453 yards of total offense.

Defense stymies Dillon Gabriel

UCF entered the bowl game with one of the nation’s highest scoring offenses, thanks to sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel. The signal caller was No. 2 in the nation in passing yards per game entering Tuesday, but against the Cougars, Gabriel struggled until late in the game when BYU had built an insurmountable lead.

Gabriel finished 21 of 45 for 217 yards and two touchdowns, though he threw for just 95 yards on 9 of 22 passing in the first half. At one point, Gabriel misfired on nine straight passes, and while BYU allowed UCF 194 rushing yards, the Cougars disrupted the Knights’ passing offense.

BYU pounces early, keeps the momentum

The Cougars put the Knights on their heels from the start, as BYU scored two touchdowns in the game’s first four minutes. The first touchdown came on a 15-yard Wilson run, capping a five-play, 87-yard drive, and the second came on an Isaac Rex 36-yard touchdown grab on a trick play on a four-play, 72-yard drive.

The Cougars added a third touchdown just before the first quarter ended to take a 21-0 lead. BYU had 270 yards of total offense in the first quarter, including 220 through the air.

End of fourth quarter

BYU 49, UCF 23

The Cougars run out the clock to earn the bowl win and their first one-loss season since 1996, when BYU went 14-1 under LaVell Edwards. BYU finishes the year 11-1.

7:53, fourth quarter

BYU 49, UCF 23

For the first time tonight, UCF has back-to-back scores, as Jaylon Robinson makes a 9-yard touchdown catch on fourth down. The Knights used a 14-play, 82-yard drive to cut their deficit to 26 points, though they couldn’t convert a two-point attempt.

End of third quarter

BYU 49, UCF 17

The Knights add a 21-yard touchdown pass from Dillon Gabriel to Justin Harris with five seconds to go until the end of the third quarter, giving BYU a 32-point lead heading into the final period.

A few notes through three quarters:

  • BYU has 585 yards of total offense, to 329 for UCF.
  • Zach Wilson has thrown for 384 yards — already a Boca Raton Bowl record — and three touchdowns through three quarters.
  • The Cougars have a sizable yardage advantage despite running 18 fewer plays (74-56). BYU is averaging 10.4 yards per play, while the Knights are averaging 4.4.

9:31, third quarter

BYU 49, UCF 10

Another drive, another touchdown for the Cougars. This time, Gunner Romney scores on a 6-yard jet sweep run, as BYU drives 67 yards on eight plays and has touchdowns on both of its second-half drives.

13:11, third quarter

BYU 42, UCF 10

After the Cougars force a three-and-out, BYU strikes quickly. Tyler Allegier breaks off a 39-yard touchdown run on a two-play, 50-yard drive, and Allgeier — who went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season in the first half — now has 92 rushing yards on 10 carries in the game.

End of second quarter

BYU 35, UCF 10

A few notes from the first half:

  • The Cougars have 434 yards of total offense, as Zach Wilson has completed 17 of 21 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also rushed for two touchdowns.

  • The Knights have 227 yards of total offense, though UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel is 9 of 22 for 95 yards.
  • Both teams have been successful on third down: BYU is 4 of 5, while UCF is 5 of 10.

0:19, second quarter

BYU 35, UCF 10

The Knights drive 57 yards on 12 plays and tack on a 35-yard field goal from Daniel Obarski right before halftime to get a bit of momentum.

3:31, second quarter

BYU 35, UCF 7

The Zach Wilson show is on full display, as he throws his third TD pass of the first half, a 35-yarder to Neil Pau’u, who made the catch in a tight window.

BYU drove 87 yards on six plays on this scoring drive that included a diving grab by Lopini Katoa for a 30-yard gain.

7:11, second quarter

BYU 28, UCF 7

The Cougars make it four touchdowns on five drives, as Isaac Rex catches a 27-yarder for his second score of the game. BYU goes 68 yards on seven plays — that included a third-and-15 conversion on a pass to Lopini Katoa — and the Cougars have 348 yards of total offense.

10:11, second quarter

BYU 21, UCF 7

The Knights go on a must-needed scoring drive, capped by a 5-yard Greg McCrae touchdown run. UCF eats up 80 yards on the 15-play drive and converts three third-down attempts to make it a two-score game.

End of first quarter

BYU 21, UCF 0

A few notes from the Cougars’ dominant first quarter:

  • BYU has 270 yards of total offense, to 85 for the Knights.
  • Zach Wilson has completed 11 of 14 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, ran for 19 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 16-yard pass on a trick play.

  • UCF’s Dillon Gabriel, who’s No. 2 in the nation in passing yards per game, has completed 3 of 8 passes for 21 yards, though he had a wide receiver drop a sure touchdown halfway through the first quarter.
  • BYU is 2 of 3 on third down, while UCF is 1 of 4.

0:25, first quarter

BYU 21, UCF 0

The Cougars add a third touchdown before the end of the first quarter, driving 76 yards on four plays — aided by a targeting penalty — and Zach Wilson scores for the second time on the ground with a 4-yard run.

2:07, first quarter

BYU 14, UCF 0

Both teams get stops on fourth down, as the defenses have their moments. First, Zach Wilson is incomplete on a fourth-down pass in UCF territory. The Knights then drive to the BYU 24, but Greg McCrae is dropped for a 1-yard loss by Zac Dawe on a fourth-and-1, giving the ball back to the Cougars.

11:10, first quarter

BYU 14, UCF 0

The Cougars score fast again, this time on a 36-yard pass to Isaac Rex on a trick play. Zach Wilson already has over 100 passing yards — he’s at 121 — while completing 5 of 6 passes. Gunner Romney (12 yards) and Neil Pau’a (19) also had catches on the drive, while Tyler Allgeier added a 5-yard run on the four-play, 72-yard drive after UCF went three-and-out on its first drive.

13:11, first quarter

BYU 7, UCF 0

The Cougars strike quick, scoring on the opening drive when Zach Wilson runs 15 yards for a touchdown. Wilson completes 2 of 3 passes for 54 yards and Tyler Allgeier has 61 yards (18 rushing, 43 receiving) on the five-play, 87-yard drive.


Here are a few links to stories you may want to read prior to or during the game:

Deseret News BYU football beat writer Jay Drew shares a few personnel notes prior to kickoff: