TAMPA, Fla. — UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton seriously injured his right leg on a scramble in the second quarter of Friday’s 38-10 win over USF, a devastating blow to a team that has now won 24 straight games.
Coach Josh Heupel had no specific update on Milton’s condition after the game, only saying the QB was in the hospital with a “traumatic” injury.
It occurred as Milton tucked the ball and ran and a crowd of USF defenders met him. He took a hit to his knee, and his leg twisted and bent at an awkward angle. Milton stayed down, and the Raymond James Stadium crowd looked on in stunned silence as a cart was brought out for him immediately.
The entire UCF bench emptied and knelt beside Milton as emergency personnel worked on him. The USF team went on the field next to him as well in a show of support.
Milton had his entire leg immobilized before he was put onto the cart and taken into the locker room, with teammates coming up to him to pat his arm or shoulder pad.
“It breaks your heart for a kid that’s worked so hard to go out there and compete, loves his brothers and plays for them,” Heupel said.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who grew up with Milton in Hawaii, tweeted his thoughts to his friend.
“Prayers out to my brother … shack back 10,” read the tweet.
Milton is the unquestioned leader on a UCF team that is trying to finish its second straight undefeated regular season. Headed into the USF game, Milton had thrown for 2,577 yards and 24 touchdowns in nine starts this season while rushing for 291 yards and nine touchdowns.
Milton threw a touchdown pass in the first quarter to help give UCF an early lead. Since the start of last season, Milton has been responsible for 79 total touchdowns, most among FBS players in that span.
Darriel Mack replaced Milton at quarterback, going 5 for 14 for 81 yards. Mack previously had started one game this season against East Carolina.
The Knights moved to No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday. It is the highest spot by a Group of 5 member in the history of the CFP.
CFP director Bill Hancock said Milton’s injury would be factored into the team’s ranking.
“First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with McKenzie Milton and his family,” Hancock told ESPN. “I do understand that some people want to talk football tonight. So, pivoting to that, the committee does consider injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season; obviously, UCF continued to play well after McKenzie left the ball game. The committee also does not project what might happen next week. They only evaluate what has happened to this point in the season.”