ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — UCF coach George O'Leary promised he wouldn't shy away from letting quarterback Blake Bortles throw the ball around more this season.
In his first outing of the year, the Knights second-year starter didn't disappoint.
Bortles had three touchdown passes and threw for a career-high 314 yards as UCF blew past Akron 38-7 on Thursday night.
Storm Johnson added 99 yards rushing and two scores as the Knights won their eighth consecutive season-opener and second straight over the Zips.
It was the first 300-yard passing game of Bortles' career and the first by a Knights' quarterback since 2009.
"For a first game, it was a good performance," Bortles said. "We were a little sloppy with some things, we need to tighten up some stuff, some things I definitely need to be better at, but I felt good."
Though Bortles garnered most of the attention after the victory, O'Leary said he was pleased the unit's play in all phases.
"I think we showed we have the backs and the line to move the chains," O'Leary said. "Whether it's run or pass I think we have the offensive players who can make big plays."
Akron dropped its 10th straight game, dating back to last season.
The Zips put pressure on Bortles, but never got traction on offense and had a pair of turnovers. Akron also struggled on third down in the first half (2 of 6) and failed to keep UCF's secondary off balance despite its hurry-up attack.
Akron coach Terry Bowden said the missed opportunities Thursday were reminiscent of those that followed them in last year's 1-11 finish.
"We cause a fumble on the first play of the game and maybe if we jump on that we can make something, but then (Bortles) throws a touchdown on the next play," Bowden said. "Next series, we sack him and he gets up the next play and throws another touchdown pass. We were just fighting uphill after that.
"They were the better team and they just took it to us."
Indeed, just about everything went right for the Knights in their first outing of the season.
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