The #12 / 13 UCF Knights defeated the # 19 / 22 USF Bulls in thrilling fashion, 49-42. The two teams took turns scoring in the fourth quarter to make for one of the most exciting endings of a college football game this season.
The Knights entered the final period of play with 35-34 lead over USF. With just over two minutes in the game, UCF quarterback, McKenzie Milton connected with receiver, Otis Anderson, to go up 42-34 with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game. The Bulls charged back on an 83 yard catch and run by Darnel Salomon for a touchdown that put them within two. A wide open D’Ernest Johnson converted two points to tie the score at 42 with 53 seconds to go. The Knights would respond immediately. On the subsequent kickoff, Mike Hughes returned the kick 95 yards for a UCF touchdown. With the score 49-42 favoring the Knights, USF had a chance to come back again. Instead, three plays later, USF tight end, Mitchell Wilcox, caught at 10 yard pass from quarterback, Quinton Flowers, that he fumbled into the hands of UCF. The Knights had 49 seconds to play with, but settled for victory formation and a safe win.
Flowers had a career day, passing for 503 yards and four touchdowns, while running for 102 and another score. UCF did a good job containing the Bulls’ run game, which helped Tyre McCants and Darnel Salomon accumulate 239 and 139 receiving yards, respectively. Each of them also scored a receiving touchdown.
Milton passed for 373 yards and four touchdowns for the win, which crowns the Knights as East division champions in the American Athletic Conference. Dedrick Snelson was his top partner in the passing game, scoring two touchdowns and racking up 81 receiving yards on just four catches. Adrian Killins led UCF in rushing with 83 yards and a score.
The loss ends all season goals for the Bulls. There will be no conference championship or New Year’s Six bowl game for them. Despite that, they finish the season a respectable 9-2, which is satisfactory in the eyes of head coach, Charlie Strong.
“We didn’t win a conference championship, but we finished 9-2,” he said. When asked if he was pleased with that, he answered, “yes.”
The future is still bright for the Knights. They will host Memphis for the American Athletic Conference title game in one week. For the first time in program history, they have an 11-0 record, and these accomplishments come with the bonus of taking down in-state neighbor and budding rival, USF.