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UCF drops heartbreaker to Maryland

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It came down to two freshmen quarterbacks in Orlando on Saturday night. Maryland freshman Tyrell Pigrome made the most of his one play on the field to lead the Terps to a 30-24 double overtime win against Central Florida at Bright House Networks Field.

His counterpart, freshman McKenzie Milton, made some good plays throughout the game for the Knights, but committed four turnovers that ultimately proved to be too much to overcome. Maryland did not turn the ball over.

Milton, who threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns, had trouble hanging onto the ball. He fumbled the ball six times throughout the game, losing three. He was making his first start.

The first came on the opening series of the game, but no points resulted. Early in the second quarter he lost another fumble, which Maryland turned into the tying touchdown.

The final turnover was fatal. When the ball slipped out of his hands in the second overtime, Maryland recovered, putting them in a position of only needing a field goal to win the game. They got much more.

Maryland’s starting quarterback, Perry Hills, who scored their touchdown in the first overtime, was injured after a one-yard gain on the first play of the second overtime. Pigrome was thrown into the hot seat, but was up to the task.

He responded with the composure of a fifth-year senior. Pigrome cut and weaved through the Knights’ defense for a game-winning 24-yard run on his first play behind center.

This game is yet another benchmark on the effort by coach Scott Frost to restore a winning tradition to UCF. While the Knights dropped to 1-2, there are other positives to take away from the effort.

Despite the turnovers, they hung in and were there in the end against an up-and-coming Big 10 team. When they start to win games such as these, bowl games will be in their future.

UCF will try to even their record next week when Florida International comes to town.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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