McCrae UCF-USF

UCF sophomore running back Greg McCrae (30) looks for a hole in the USF Bulls’ defensive line during the War on I-4 game on Friday, Nov. 23. McCrae ran for 181 yards on 16 carries and scored 3 touchdowns in UCF's 38-10 victory over USF at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Despite losing junior quarterback McKenzie Milton to a gruesome leg injury, the No. 9 Knights defeated the USF Bulls 38-10 on Friday.

UCF (11-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) capped off its second-straight undefeated regular season, rallying after Milton's injury.

Milton was listed in “good condition” on Saturday, according to John Dunn, director of public relations for Tampa General Hospital.

"McKenzie’s surgery was successful and he is recovering well,” according to a Saturday statement by the quarterback’s family, released through the UCF Football Twitter account. 

Early in the second quarter, Milton scrambled for a first-down near the USF sideline and was hit from behind by a Bulls defender, bending his leg in an awkward direction.

“All of our thoughts and prayers are with him [McKenzie Milton] right now," UCF head coach Josh Heupel said. 

Milton looked down at his leg after the play and quickly covered his face his disbelief. A member of the USF medical team rushed to Milton to tend to the injury as UCF's medical team sprinted over.

Redshirt sophomore receiver Tre Nixon immediately fell to one knee after seeing the injury.

As Milton's leg was immobilized and he was carted off, both teams came onto the field to encourage the quarterback and let Milton know he was in their thoughts.  

“When I went over to him, the doctors were around him," Heupel said. "My immediate concern was one, just his well being and and two, his mental state. I told him that I love him."

Heupel said that he will not discuss Milton’s medical state until he has more information.

Both fan bases erupted in support for Milton as he fist-pumped while being carted off the field.

“It is heartbreaking because McKenzie Milton is a great person," sophomore running back Greg McCrae said. "It isn’t about McKenzie Milton the football player that you guys see all the time, it’s about him as a person and seeing that happen to him is devastating to the whole team." 

Milton was rushed to a local hospital immediately after being carted off the field where he will undergo evaluations on the severity of the injury, according to ESPN reports. 

Despite how grisly the injury may be, his teammates remain positive that he'll come back better than ever.

"Everybody knows McKenzie Milton is a baller," junior offensive lineman Jordan Johnson said. "We know he's going to come back better than ever."

Redshirt freshman quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. took over for Milton for the rest of the game.

After Milton went down, the focal point of the offense was McCrae. McCrae had his best total in his career as a Knight with 16 carries, 181 yards and three touchdowns.

His biggest touchdown of the game came in the third quarter after USF (7-5, 3-5 AAC) scored 10 unanswered points and got the game back within seven at 17-10. McCrae ran for a 39-yard touchdown, making multiple defenders miss on his way to the end zone.

McCrae gives credit to his offensive line on his performance in the game.

“It was a great job by the offensive line, and they picked up a lot of blocks," McCrae said. "The holes were there and we made great adjustments on the fly. The O-Line provided a lot of holes for me to run through and I just took it.”

The Knights, as a team, combined for 391 rushing yards in the game — which is the most rushing yards in a game this season.  

Before the injury, Milton got off to a shaky start and threw an early pick after the USF defensive line put pressure on him.

Milton would pick things up on the third drive and found sophomore receiver Gabriel Davis on a drag route for 38 yards.

In the next play, Milton found Davis for a 14-yard touchdown after Davis ran a slant route, causing separation from the defensive backs.

As for the defense, UCF picked up where they left off from last game after only allowing seven points against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

The Knights allowed 10 points in the game. They had several key stops in the game including a goal line stand on fourth and goal at the Knights 3-yard line. The stop came after USF's offense started with the ball at the Knights' 12-yard line off a Milton interception.

UCF junior linebacker Nate Evans led the way for the Knights on the defensive end with 10 total tackles, nine of which were unassisted.

After the game, Mack Jr. carried Milton's jersey on the field.

"Very, very emotional for me," Mack Jr. said. "I'm always around him so, just seeing that hurts my heart. That's my guy."

With the win, the Knights extend their winning streak to 24 games and head into the AAC Championship game without Milton.

They will host the Memphis Tigers at Spectrum Stadium in a rematch of last season's conference championship game with kickoff at 3:30 p.m. and being broadcast on ABC.

This story has been updated to reflect new information about McKenzie Milton’s medical status. Check back with NSM Today for updates.

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