The University of Central Florida Knights traveled to TDECU Stadium to take on the Houston Cougars in an American Athletic Conference showdown Thursday night.
Both teams were looking to get off to a fast starts in conference play after underwhelming beginnings to their seasons.
Houston entered the matchup at 2-2, fresh of the heels of a 47-14 victory against UNLV. UCF had started the season 0-2, but rebounded last week with a 41-7 thrashing of Bethune-Cookman.
Although UCF led the series 4-1, four of those five matchups had been decided by just a touchdown. Houston were hoping to avenge last season's 19-14 loss, which saw UCF hold on after stopping the Cougars on 4th-and-goal at the end of the game.
Houston experienced similar late game heartbreak.
Greg Ward brought Houston back and nearly won the game in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. On a long run, Ward fumbled while diving for the touchdown. The ball trickled out of the end zone for a heartbreaking safety. Brandon Alexander produced the hit that preserved UCF's 17-12 victory. Ward had taken the place of John O'Korn in the second half and had directed the Cougars back from a 17-6 deficit.
UCF built their lead on the strength of two passing touchdowns from Justin Holman. The Knights defense forced three turnovers, including the crucial fumble at the end of the game.
UCF will host BYU next Thursday, while Houston will travel to Memphis.