ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Playing in front of a crowd one-quarter of the normal size because of COVID-19 concerns, the No. 11-ranked UCF Knights were knocked off by unranked Tulsa 34-26 in their home-opener of the college football season.

What You Need To Know

  • The game was the home-opener for UCF

  • The loss ended the Knights's home winning streak at 21 

  • UCF was penalized 18 times 

  • The Knights' next game is October 17 at Memphis

UCF (2-1, 1-1 in the American Athletic Conference) had a shot to tie the score on the last play of the game, but a pressured pass by quarterback Dillon Gabriel to the back of the end zone could not be hauled in by well-covered receivers Marlon Williams and Amari Johnson.

The defeat ended the Knights’ bid for a perfect season and a shot at the college football playoffs and ended their 21-game home winning streak. UCF lost to Tulsa (1-1, 1-0 AAC) late last season, too.

“We put ourselves in a tough position all night long,” UCF Coach Josh Heupel said.

UCF jumped out to an early lead but turned over the ball three times and was penalized 18 times.

“It costs you a football game like it did tonight,” Heupel said.

“Every loss takes the same type of feeling,” UCF defensive lineman Stephon Zayas said. “This one hurts, but we just got to move on as a team and just find ourselves right now.”

To do that, the Knights will have to find a way to stop getting penalties that slow offensive drives.

“You do the things we did tonight, coaching staff and players, that’s how you end up on the wrong side of it,” Heupel said.

Since Heupel took over as coach, the Knights are 2-5 in games when they lose by one score or less.

“I don’t’ think it’s on the coaches,” running back Otis Anderson said. “It’s on the players. We have so many playmakers. One-score games we shouldn’t lose.”

Gabriel said the Knights have to play better if they want to be considered among the best.

“You got to prove it every week,” Gabriel said. “We didn’t prove it this week. It’s next week [now]. Got to move on.”

The Knights are off next weekend before playing in Memphis on October 17.