UCF’s Dillon Gabriel wasn’t sure he would play in his first season with the Knights.
By the second game of the season, the 2019 Mililani graduate and 2018 Honolulu Star-Advertiser offensive player of the year was UCF’s starting quarterback.
Gabriel completed his freshman season in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl and was named the game’s most valuable player after finishing 14-for-24 for 260 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a rushing TD in a 48-25 win over Marshall on Monday in Tampa, Fla.
UCF started slow offensively but still led 24-7 at halftime thanks to two defensive touchdowns. Gabriel got it going after intermission, throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to cap UCF’s first drive of the second half.
He drove the team 75 yards on the next drive and capped it off with a 3-yard TD run on a QB draw, and then threw a 75-yard touchdown on the next drive to give UCF a 45-22 advantage.
Gabriel’s 3,653 passing yards in his freshman season are the fourth-most in a season at UCF and his 29 passing touchdowns are third behind McKenzie Milton and Ryan Schneider for a season.
“I think there’s so much things to learn from over the course of this season,” Gabriel said after the game. “Just from getting here in January, just learning so much and obviously going through my first full season, I think overall there’s so much things to work on individual and as a team.”
UCF finished 10-3 this year for its third consecutive 10-win season. The Knights are 35-4 since the start of the 2017 season.
“I’m just glad I was able to contribute to this team the best I could,” Gabriel said. “Do what I could from the quarterback position.”
Gabriel’s final 2019 stats
13 G, 236-for-398 (59.3 percent), 3,653 yards, 29 TD, 7 INT, 71 carries, 78 yards, 4 TD