On fourth down with the game on the line, Jordan Ozerities put his arms up while the Tulane receiver put his arms out to make the tough catch. After juggling the ball, Tulane receiver Leondre James let it fall harmlessly to the grass. For the third time in three weeks, UCF survived a late-game scare.
On a day where seemingly nothing went right at Bright House Networks Stadium, UCF (4-2, 2-0) secured a 20-13 victory over the Green Wave (2-5, 1-2) Saturday in front of an announced 35,015.
"A win is a win, but it's hard to enjoy a game like that," head coach George O'Leary said. "I thought it was pathetic some of the things that were done out there from a penalty standpoint, from a turnover standpoint. We just cannot keep doing those things. We're lucky to win a game like that."
UCF committed eight penalties, lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions during the game, and also converted just four of 14 third downs. While the offense struggled to find any kind of rhythm, the play of the defense kept the team afloat, allowing less than 300 total yards and forcing two turnovers.
"Their lives are about to change on Monday because I am not going to put up with that lackadaisical garbage I saw today from the offense," O'Leary said.
UCF struggled to get into any kind of rhythm offensively and, in the second quarter, even resorted to inserting backup quarterback Nick Patti for a few drives. The redshirt sophomore led the Knights to a touchdown drive in which sophomore William Stanback powered the ball across the goal line. On the 85-yard-scoring drive, Patti completed all three of his passes.
In the second half, UCF went back with Holman behind center. On his first pass of the third quarter, the sophomore found Breshad Perriman on a quick slant, and Perriman turned a short pass into a 45-yard touchdown. Holman completed nine of 17 passes for 113 yards on the day.
"We just have to continue to get better," O'Leary said. "We cannot continue playing how we're playing."
After scoring 10 first-quarter points against BYU last week, UCF had a scoreless first quarter against Tulane and the offense gained just 39 yards.
On the ground, Dontravious Wilson led the way with 51 yards on 13 carries, and Stanback had 45 yards on 16 carries.
"I think we came out a little flat, and I think that started pregame," redshirt junior center Joey Grant said. "That's on the team. That's not on coach. That's clearly on us and we have to pick it up."
While the running game once again struggled, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, the struggles of the offensive line continue to present problems for the UCF offense.
Freshman offensive tackle Chavis Dickey went down with injury, and redshirt freshman Aaron Evans entered in his place. Later, redshirt senior Tarik Milner entered at left guard for Chester Brown.
"We have to sustain blocks and knock people off the ball, and do what offensive linemen do," Grant said.
UCF returns to the field Saturday for UCF's homecoming game against Temple, with kickoff slated for 5 p.m.
Follow Gillespie on Twitter @rgillespiecff.