After falling behind 17-6 at the end of the third quarter, Houston stormed back and came within a yard of victory. And then they dropped the ball.
Greg Ward Jr., who entered the game in place of sophomore John O'Korn in the second half, scrambled with less than 30 seconds remaining, dove for the end zone and then was struck by senior safety Brandon Alexander. The ball came out of Ward's hand before he broke the plane of the end zone , and the play was ruled a touchback.
UCF (2-2, 1-0) survived and defeated the Houston Cougars (2-3, 0-1) 17-12 on Thursday night.
For the second consecutive season, UCF was able to stop Houston in the red zone in the final 30 seconds to secure the victory.
The game was controlled by the UCF defense, which didn't allow a touchdown on the night, and also intercepted two passes. Each starting safety, senior Clayton Geathers and Alexander, had interceptions on the game.
While sophomore quarterback Justin Holman threw two touchdown passes on the night, he finished with just six completions on 18 attempts, and gained just 101 yards.
The UCF running game was contained to 3.7 yards per carry, and William Stanback led the way with 44 yards.
Holman found Breshad Perriman for a 52-yard catch and run, resulting in UCF's longest play of the night, and its second touchdown.
O'Korn finished 12 -of-26, with 98 yards and two interceptions.
The Knights host No. 18 BYU next Thursday at 7:30 p.m.