No. 21 Central Florida survived a battle between the top two teams in the American Athletic Conference on Saturday night to defeat Houston, 19-14.
The win puts the Knights in sole possession of first place in the AAC as the only team still unbeaten in the conference. The Cougars drop to 4-1 in the league and are tied for second with Louisville and Cincinnati.
Central Florida got on the board first with a pair of second-quarter field goals from Shawn Moffitt, each from 40 or more yards out. The Cougars answered with a touchdown in the third quarter, as a John O'Korn run for 24 yards gave Houston its only lead of the game at 7-6.
That lead did not last long. William Stanback ran for his first touchdown of the game just five minutes later to put the Knights ahead for good.
The game took a long and frightening break early in the fourth quarter when Houston's Zachary McMillian hit Central Florida's Breshad Perriman hard, sending Perriman to the ground for several minutes. McMillian was ejected for targeting and left the field being pelted with debris from Knights fans. Perriman was carried off the field on a stretcher.
Just moments later, when play finally resumed, Stanback carried the ball four out of five plays, including a 38-yard touchdown run to put the Knights up 19-7.
And while it looked like the Knights had the momentum, building off the emotion of losing one of their players, Houston blocked a Moffitt field goal attempt with just over six minutes left to give the Cougars some hope. The Cougars' drive ultimately ended in a touchdown on a pass from quarterback John O'Korn to Wayne Beadle.
After a three-and-out from Central Florida, Houston got the ball back. With favorable field position, the Cougars threatened, but O'Korn couldn't complete a pass to Aaron Johnson on fourth-and-goal, sealing it for the Knights.
Box Score Hero: UCF had only two players with positive rushing yards for the game, but Stanback made the most of his nine carries. He went for 74 yards, an average of 8.2 yards per attempt, and had two touchdowns.
Rankings Ramifications:The Cougars were receiving votes in both the AP and Coaches' polls, and a win could have put them in the Top 25. Instead, UCF is likely safe at No. 21 in the BCS standings.
But Did They Cover? Central Florida was favored by 13, so it did not cover the spread.
Next Week's Schedule: The Knights visit Temple next week for a noon game on ESPN3, while the Cougars play their second ranked team in as many weeks. They play at Louisville next Saturday at 7 p.m.