HUNGTINGON, W. Va. (UCFAthletics.com) -Quincy McDuffie returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, Latavius Murray rushed for 156 yards and scored four touchdowns and UCF (6-2, 4-0 C-USA) rolled over Marshall (3-5, 2-2) 54-17 in a key Conference USA East Division contest Saturday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The victory makes the Knights bowl eligible for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.
McDuffie's first kick return for a score - a 97-yarder - put UCF on top 7-3 right after Marshall took an early 3-0 lead. His second one - that one going 98 yards - opened the second half and gave the Knights a 34-10 advantage. It was the first time in school history a Knight returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a game.
"I'm never looking back," McDuffie said of the feeling when he has a chance to break a big return. "I'm looking for the end zone. Once I see that ... I'm determined to get in there and I do everything I can within me to try to make that happen."
It took a while for the UCF offense to get rolling. But the Knights' defense and special teams allowed the offense enough time to get in sync. Once the offense got things rolling in the second quarter, the Knights racked up 20 points in the frame and raced out to a 27-3 lead.
Early on, the UCF defense bent but didn't break, allowing just a field goal. Meanwhile, special teams swung momentum away from the Marshall sideline early. Marshall grabbed a 3-0 first-quarter lead, while the UCF offense threw an interception on its first play and went three-and-out on its next possession. But McDuffie's first kickoff return for a score put UCF on top 7-3 13 seconds after the Herd field goal. The Knights never trailed again.
UCF went on top 14-3 early in the second quarter. Quarterback Blake Bortles was 5-of-5 passing on the drive. Murray finished the possession with a 2-yard TD run to give the Knights a 14-3 advantage. From there, it was almost all Knights. A 16-yard TD pass from Bortles to Jeff Godfrey later in the second quarter left UCF on top 20-3 after the PAT was blocked.
Murray then put UCF up 27-3. He took a delayed handoff, ran into traffic near the line of scrimmage, but then bounced outside and sprinted 75 yards down the UCF sideline for a touchdown.
"We got help from the special teams -- Quincy and those great kickoff returns -- and the defense put us in great position," Bortles said. "From an offensive standpoint, I think it was our best performance of the year."
In addition to Murray's 156 yards rushing, he also caught two passes for 38 yards and a score. His receiving touchdown came midway through the third quarter and put UCF on top 40-10 after another PAT was blocked. Murray scored again on a 42-yard run with 3:24 left in the third. His fourth score of the night left UCF on top 47-10.
"(Latavius) was unbelievable," Bortles said. "He's a complete back. He can do it all. He's big, fast strong, he can catch. They opened up some holes for him tonight and he took advantage of it."
Brynn Harvey capped the scoring late in the fourth quarter, when he capped a 15-play, 99-yard drive that ran 10:10 off the clock. He scored from 21 yards out to put the Knights up 54-17.
UCF's 54 points are the most Marshall has ever allowed in Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The 37-point victory for the Knights was the largest margin for a visitor in the stadium, which was built in 1991. Overall, it was the worst home loss for the Thundering Herd since 1982.
Bortles threw for a career-high 277 yards on 15-of-21 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Defensively, the Knights were paced by Jonathan Davis, who recorded nine tackles, including two tackles-for-loss and a sack. Deion Green made the most of his six tackles, recording five stops behind the line of scrimmage, including two sacks.
The Knights are back in action again next Saturday at Bright House Networks Stadium. UCF will host SMU in a Homecoming contest, which is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. ET.