HAWAII GROWN: Milton, Knights survive to win AAC title

Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton held up the most outstanding performer trophy after defeating Memphis 62-55 in overtime in the American Athletic Conference championship. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton threw for a career-high 494 yards and accounted for six touchdowns to lead the Knights to a thrilling 62-55 win in double overtime over Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game today in Orlando.

Milton, who threw five touchdown passes and ran for another, was named the player of the game.

The 2016 Mililani alumnus has guided UCF to a perfect 12-0 record just two years after the team went 0-12 and is now 17-6 as the starter over two years.

UCF’s likeliest bowl destination is the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1 in Atlanta.

Milton, who is a finalist for the Manning Award — given annually by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the top quarterback in collegiate football — accounted for 562 total yards against the Tigers, rushing 10 times for 68 yards. He completed 28 of 40 pass attempts (70 percent) and was intercepted three times.

His 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter tied the game at 31-31 after Memphis took its largest lead of the game in regulation at 31-24. UCF led 48-34 before giving up two touchdowns in the final 9:02 to send the game to overtime.

“We were able to weather the storm and we came out guns blazing the second half,” Milton said in a UCF press release. “There was one play that I got a little greedy, but it is what it is. The defense picked us up and we were able to get the win. So I’m grateful for that.”

With 4,232 combined rushing and passing yards this season, Milton broke the school record for a single season set by Daunte Culpepper in 1998.

His 3,795 passing yards and 35 passing touchdowns are also school records for a season.

After the game, the school announced head coach Scott Frost had resigned from his position. Nebraska announced it had hired Frost to be its next coach.

In a statement, Frost said, “This has truly been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. I’m very proud of what this group of student-athletes and coaches has accomplished during my tenure at UCF. The Knights should be in the conversation for the American Athletic Conference championship year in and year out. UCF should be a Top 25 program year in and year out. I believe this program is well on its way to establishing that level of success. The next head coach at UCF is inheriting an incredible group of young men and is more fortunate than he probably knows to be working at this place.

“I can’t put into words how grateful I am to my team, my coaching staff, Dr. Hitt, Danny White, the UCF administration, Knights fans, the Orlando community and everyone who have supported us. I truly love UCF and I’ll be a Knight for life.”


  1. TrojanFan4Life December 2, 2017 2:44 pm

    March on TROJAN!! Well desereved! Go and get that 13th win!

  2. Kamehameha#1 January 2, 2018 7:10 am

    why is it that Mckenzie is not getting a lot of publicity? This kid is Hawaii’s own, just like Marcus, and the great players that came before him. This is the greatest accomplish by a college quarterback from Hawaii and yet, I can’t find anything about it on the newspaper. Unbelievable performance yesterday, and what an accomplishment to lead his college team to a 13-0 record. Hawaii is proud of you, even if you didn’t go St. louis. You did what Marcus couldn’t do!

  3. Whhy January 2, 2018 10:10 am

    Kamehameha#1… Give me a break Mckenzie is doing great, but don’t bring Marcus into this. Marcus was playing in the Pac12. 13-0 is great and I agree that is a huge accomplishment but its not a good time to compare Mariota and Milton. If you want to complain you could say, look everyone thinks that Tagovailoa is amazing for being on the bench of Alambama. This kid took his offense that was terrible and ran a perfect season and no one is talking about that.

    Here is something to think about, in HS the report was that Milton was a UH commit and at the time they were thinking of having him go as a utility player. The question now becomes, Wow where would Milton be if he had stayed home? What could have Timoteo been had he left UH?

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