Central Florida quarterback Dillon Gabriel fired four touchdown passes to lead the No. 13 Knights to a 51-28 victory over East Carolina in an error-filled game Saturday afternoon in Greenville, N.C.
The Knights (2-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) won for the 37th time in their last 41 games behind the sophomore Hawaiian, who clicked on 32 of 47 passes for 408 yards -- including a school-record 18 straight.
He connected twice on scores with former Oklahoma transfer wide receiver Jaylon Robinson (9 catches, 150 yards), while Marlon Williams added 136 yards on a career-high 13 receptions.
Gabriel has eight passing touchdowns over the first two contests and topped 400 yards in each.
Quarterback Holton Ahlers went 14 of 29 for 215 yards and three TDs, and Darius Pinnix Jr. caught a score and rushed for another for the Pirates (0-1, 0-1).
A four-touchdown underdog playing in front of approximately 300 fans, East Carolina scored on the first series when Pinnix took a swing pass 17 yards from Ahlers for a 7-0 lead to cap a 9-play, 75-yard drive.
Running back Greg McCrae finished the visitors' own 75-yard drive on their first possession on a short run with 8:22 left, and UCF's defense -- which forced four turnovers after tallying five last week -- took over.
The unit recovered two fumbles on consecutive possessions -- both in the Pirates' territory -- and scored on the second when Daniel Obarski gave the Knights a lead with a 26-yard field goal and later a 13-7 edge on a 33-yarder midway through the second.
An ECU busted coverage resulted in Gabriel's 64-yard pass to Robinson with 4:57 remaining to make it 20-7. Wisconsin tight end transfer Jake Hescock pushed it to 27-7 with a 7-yard catch near the half's end.
While the Knights forced three turnovers and a turnover on downs, they also committed 13 penalties for 75 yards in the half -- one that cost Hescock another score -- and had 19 for 140 yards for the game.
Gabriel hurled an 11-yard strike to Jacob Harris early in the second half and a 9-yarder to Robinson before C.J. Johnson scored on a 37-yard pass for ECU.
In the fourth quarter, Obarski kicked another field goal, Pinnix scored again, UCF's Johnny Richardson ripped off a 41-yard TD run and Tyler Snead scored for ECU.
--Field Level Media