The Tigers rode the arm of James Franklin (257 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT), the legs of Kendial Lawrence (19 carries, 104 yards and 1 TD) and were buoyed by a timely third quarter 66-yard punt return for a touchdown by Marcus Murphy to fend off the charging Knights.
Lawrence scored on a 10-yard rush with 9:31 left in the game before UCF quarterback Blake Bortles closed the gap to 21-16 on an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Godfrey with 4:34 remaining. But the Knights' two-point conversion attempt failed and their rally died with it.
Bortles ended the game with 267 yards and two touchdowns while running back Storm Johnson finished with 93 yards on 15 carries.
The win puts the Tigers above .500 at 3-2 and drops the Knights to 2-2.
Box Score Hero: It would have been Bortles but his team lost so we'll give this honor to Franklin, who put up monster yardage (257) with a touchdown. Yes, he threw a pick but his team still won.
Rankings Ramifications: Neither team will be ranked following this game but at least the Tigers showed some fight after a tough introduction to the SEC.
Did They Cover?: The Tigers covered but they only had a 2-point or less spread so a win would more than likely cover anyway.
For More On This Game: Check out Rock M Nation to talk about this game and all things Tigers with other Tigers fans.
Next Week's Schedule: Missouri hosts Vanderbilt at 7:00 p.m. ET and UCF will host East Carolina at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Tigers got their boost from a Marcus Murphy 66-yard punt return for a touchdown, which gave the Tigers the lead and something to hang their hat on in a game where their offense hasn't been able to do much other than pile on yardage.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin has done all he can with 257 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception, but the Tigers haven't been able to turn all of his yards into consistent red zone production.
The Tigers defense came to play in the third quarter as Knights running back Storm Johnson is still stuck on 84 yards rushing after gashing the Tigers for the same amount in the first half.
Knights quarterback Blake Bortles has 189 yards with one touchdown on 21-of-31 passing.
After a slow first quarter, both the Missouri Tigers and the Central Florida Knights found some explosiveness in their offenses and the Knights entered halftime with a 10-7 lead at BH Networks Stadium in Orlando.
The Tigers struck first and took the lead on an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback James Franklin to wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham with 12:39 remaining in the half. But the Knights would answer right back with a seven-play, 86-yard drive of their own that ended on a 12-yard touchdown pass Quincy McDuffie from quarterback Blake Bortles to regain the lead they would take into the half.
Franklin has been superb with 159 yards and a touchdown on 9-for-13 passing. Bortles has 156 yards and a touchdown on 18-for-22 passing.
The major difference between to the two offenses production is that the Tigers can't run the ball and the Knights have running back Storm Johnson. The Tigers have a total of minus-5 yards on seven carries while Johnson leads a Knights attack with 84 yards on 11 carries. The Knights have 113 total rushing yards as a team.
The Missouri Tigers were held without points in the first quarter against the UCF Knights on Saturday morning, but an 80-yard touchdown strike from James Franklin to Dorial Green-Beckham gave MU a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. Beckham was lined up one-on-one in man coverage, and after hauling the pass in he broke the lone tackle to score the first touchdown of his career.
Other than that one-play drive, the Tigers offense has struggled. Franklin has looked a bit sharper than in previous games, but two dropped passes have halted numerous scoring opportunities.
The Knights scored their points on a 42-yard field goal from Shawn Moffitt. Quarterback Blake Bortles has completed seven of his eight pass attempts for 30 yards, while Storm Johnson leads the way with 69 rushing yards.
UCF is currently driving the ball down the field early in the second quarter. The game is being televised on Fox Sports Net.
Missouri freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has just six catches for 48 yards in 2012, and receiver T.J. Moe feels the offense needs to find a way to get him more involved in the offense.
The Missouri offense is struggling so far this season, their first year in the SEC, scoring just 30 points total in losses to Georgia and South Carolina. According to STLToday, Moe feels that the offense needs to get the heralded young player the ball more often.
"I've been the leading receiver on the team the last two years and I had two catches and 13 yards (at South Carolina), so it's not like everyone is getting 150 yards and he's not doing anything," receiver T.J. Moe said. "We're all struggling. He's listening, learning and seeing what everyone else is going through. He knows he can contribute. We have to find a way to get him the football."
Green-Beckham was one of the most highly-coveted recruits in the country this past year, playing high school at Hillcrest in Springfield, Missouri. He finished his senior year with 119 receptions for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns.
The Tigers face UCF on Saturday, with kickoff set for 11 a.m. CT.
We had 58 plays and I think he played 26. So we are getting him in more, and we called his number a bunch of times. We intend to get him the ball more and he’s doing a lot better in practice. My message to him though, and it’s the same message I told Danario (Alexander) and J-Mac (Maclin), is you focus on becoming a better player. That’s all you focus on, instead of worrying about filling expectations. That’s all you focus on, and that is how you will fulfill your potential.
The 6'6" wideout was the No. 1 recruit in the nation for 2012 according to Rivals.com. ESPN had the Tigers' freshman ranked as the nation's No. 3 overall recruit in the 2012 class while listing him as the nation's top available wide receiver. After catching three balls in Missouri's opener, Green-Beckham has caught a single pass in each of the team's other three games.
Missouri faces UCF on Saturday, and you will be able to see how many balls are thrown his way at 11 a.m. CT.
"Zaviar Gooden will not play next week. He came back and tweaked his hamstring a little bit, and as everyone knows hamstrings are a sensitive injury so we need to get him healed up. Also, nobody else on the injury list is expected to return this Saturday."
Those "other injuries" alluded to by the coach mostly include a slew of injuries on the offensive line for the Tigers, a problem that has been hitting them all season long.
Gooden was originally injured during Mizzou's loss to Georgia. The senior captain has been one of the top defensive players for Missouri in the past several seasons, and his presence will be missed against a scrappy UCF offense led by quarterback Blake Bortles.