Kevin Smith Helps Lift UCF Over Tulsa

Sunday, October 21st 2007, 7:17 pm
By: News On 6

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ It took a week for Central Florida running back Kevin Smith to return to his usual self.

After a season-low 55 yards against then-No. 5 South Florida on Oct. 13, the junior had 170 yards on 33 carries with four touchdowns in the Golden Knights' 44-23 win against Tulsa on Saturday.

``You can't say enough about Kevin Smith with some of the runs he ripped off today,'' UCF coach George O'Leary said. ``I don't think I'm going to turn around and promote him for the Heisman. I'll let (the media) do that, but I think it hurt him (in the Heisman race) not having a good game against South Florida.''

Smith entered the game the nation's fifth-leading rusher, averaging 108.1 yards per game. He had a 13-yard score in the second quarter and a 15-yard touchdown reception on the next drive. The reception was the junior's first career receiving touchdown.

Smith added a 4-yard score in the third quarter and a 44-yard scamper in fourth.

Smith moved past former UCF running back Willie English for sole possession of second in career rushing touchdowns (30) and rushing yards (3,197) in program history. Smith also surpassed 1,000 yards for the season, finishing with 1,085 through seven games, while recording his 15th career 100-plus yard rushing game.

``I thought we played and executed our plan early _ knocking down the run with Kevin Smith,'' Tulsa coach Todd Graham said. ``They were the better football team tonight. They made the plays.''

Tulsa (4-3, 2-2 Conference USA) struck first as quarterback Paul Smith hit receiver Jesse Meyer for a 7-yard score. UCF (4-3, 2-1) quickly tied it when quarterback Kyle Israel scrambled for a 22-yard touchdown.

Israel opened the game by going 8-for-8 for 52 yards and finished 21-for-29 for 224 yards.

Tulsa led 14-7 after the first quarter, but UCF scored the next 17 points and never trailed in the second half.

Paul Smith, who has passed for more than 300 yards in all of the Golden Hurricane's games this season, completed 34 of 56 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. He also hit Trae Johnson for a 14-yard score in the first quarter and Cameron Clemons for a 9-yard score in the fourth. Smith completed passes to nine different receivers.

The Golden Knights' interception in third was their first takeaway since Sept. 15 against then-No. 6 Texas, a span of 18 quarters.

``I was happy to see what takeaways look like,'' O'Leary said. ``I hadn't seen any in a while.''