HAWAII GROWN: UCF’s Dillon Gabriel starts, dazzles in win over Stanford

Central Florida quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw a pass as he was pressured by Stanford defensive tackle Dalyn Wade-Perry (50) during the first half on Saturday. Associated Press photo.

UCF coach Josh Heupel has been tight-lipped about who would be his starting quarterback in each of the Knights’ last two games.

True freshman Dillon Gabriel is doing his best to make that choice obvious.

The reigning Honolulu Star-Advertiser offensive player of the year out of Mililani is putting a stranglehold on that starting job after leading the Knights to a 45-27 win over Stanford on Saturday that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.

The left-handed gunslinger, who is Hawaii’s all-time career passing record holder with 9.848 yards and 105 touchdowns, finished 22-for-30 for 347 yards and four touchdowns without an interception against the Pac-12 Cardinal.

Gabriel threw TD passes of 28, 38 and 38 yards in the first quarter alone to give UCF a 28-7 lead after the opening 15 minutes and the Knights took a 38-7 lead into halftime with Gabriel leading UCF to five touchdowns and a field goal in seven total drives.

UCF gave up a field goal and a fumble return for a TD late to make the final score closer than it was.

Heupel did not commit to a starting quarterback moving forward, saying “I don’t know’ when asked if Gabriel had done enough to be named the starter.

Gabriel is now 2-0 as a starter for the Knights and has played in all three games to start the season. He has nine TD passes without an interception and has been sacked only once.

UCF plays at Pitt next week.

Gabriel was beaten out by Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush for the starting job in UCF’s opener two weeks ago, but an injury to Wimbush has given Gabriel the opportunity to take over the job.


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