Harvey, Hudson Help Knights’ Roundup of the Cowboys

Ken Cross

November 14, 2023 at 12:50 pm.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The UCF Knights destroyed the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys, 45-3, in the Space Game in Orlando, Fla. as it was an effort easily equated to the Knights’ best overall game of the season.

UCF put up 592 total yards of offense and held Oklahoma State running back and national leading rusher Ollie Gordon to just 25 yards on 12 carries. Gordon came into the game averaging 136 yards on the ground in the Cowboys’ first nine games.

The move from the AAC to the Big 12 has been a transition in all phases for the Knights, but Coach Gus Malzahn brought them together as a unit Saturday by using dominating performances on both sides of the football.

Running back RJ Harvey rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns for the second consecutive game. Harvey has put up 1,082 yards on 170 total carries with his 11th and 12th rushing touchdowns of the season.

The rushing matchup between Harvey and OSU’s Gordon turned out to be as big of a mismatch as the game itself. Harvey provided a rushing attack that amassed 100 or more yards for the fifth game in a row and it allowed UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to complete 11-of-18 passes for 299 yards and three scores.

“Offensively, JRP is starting to get better,” said Knights head coach Gus Malzahn. “He’s really throwing the ball well in practice and getting his legs underneath him. Our receivers made some plays.”

Javon Baker topped UCF in receiving yardage with 112 yards on four catches, while Kobe Hudson caught three balls, all for touchdowns, as both receivers dominated Oklahoma State’s secondary.

“We came into practice this week with a couple of people banged up,” said Hudson. “We knew we had to fight and I feel like we played our best game of the year today.”

Hudson’s first TD reception was on the Knights’ second drive when he caught a seven-yard throw to give UCF a 14-0 lead with 1:11 left in the first. Hudson was set up by a 38-yard pass from Plumlee to Baker on a fly pattern that set up the Knights on the Cowboys’ 20-yard line.

The senior receiver’s second score was a 75-yard pass play from Plumlee where he adjusted and then caught the ball at about midfield and turned the reception into a foot race for the Knights’ 24-0 lead at 11:49 before halftime.

“Our mindset when we came in was that we could beat anybody,” noted Hudson. “Coach let us play. He let John Rhys be free, but we made a couple of mistakes and we came back when we needed to.”

Finally, in the middle of the third period, Hudson caught a slant pass on the right side and scored from 13 yards out as UCF enjoyed a 38-3 lead late in the third.

“Coach Gus told us when we push the ball down the field, we have to make most of our plays and he had the receivers on the edge. He trusted us so we made the most of our opportunities.”

Hudson, who transferred to UCF from Auburn, has accumulated 703 yards on 31 catches and leads the Knights’ receivers with seven touchdown receptions. He had 130 or more yards in three of his first four games and joins Baker as a solid one-two punch on the perimeter.

“We were excited coming into this week, knowing this was a ranked opponent,” said Hudson. “I just feel like we came into this week with the mindset to come and win.”

The Space Game is played because UCF is known as a major supplier of people to the space program at Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. After Saturday’s desecration of the Cowboys, UCF is now 7-0 in its Space Game matchups.