Nov. 09, 2013
ORLANDO (AP) - Moving the ball has not been a problem for Houston this season.
It wasn't against UCF, either, but finishing drives and turning those yards into points was as the Cougars' fell to the 19th-ranked Knights 19-14 on Saturday night.
Houston had a pair of turnovers and came up empty on a two passes inside the 10 in the closing seconds to suffer their first American Athletic Conference loss of the season.
The Cougars now joins everyone else in the league hoping UCF slips up in the chase for its at-large bid to the BCS.
Houston forced three UCF turnovers, but turned only one of them into points.
Houston has forced multiple turnovers in 17 straight games and improved their total turnover number to 32 on the year. Two of the turnovers occured in the opening quarter as the UH defense stopped UCF's first two opening drives in their own red zones with turnovers.
"The thing we emphasize more than anything in our program, defensively, is creating turnovers," Cougars coach Tony Levine said. "Normally, when you win the turnover margin you win the game."
William Stanback scored two touchdowns to help the Knights keep first place in the American Athletic Conference all to itself.
Storm Johnson added 127 yards rushing for UCF (7-1, 4-0), which now has the inside track to the league's automatic BCS bid, with victories against the Cougars and Louisville.
The Cougars drove to the UCF 10 in the final minute, but came up empty on back-to-back passes from John O'Korn into the end zone. The first went off star receiver Deontay Greenberry's finger tips and second to Aaron Johnson was then broken up by UCF linebacker Brandon Alexander.
O'Korn had a touchdown pass and two interceptions for the Cougars (7-2, 4-1).
The Knights had three giveaways and lost receiver Breshad Perriman to a targeting hit early in the fourth quarter, but rallied to preserve the win.
Trailing 13-7 in the fourth, Houston pinned UCF on its own 2, but the Knights got some space on a 17-yard completion from Blake Bortles to Perriman.
Following a UCF missed field goal, Houston got life when O'Korn found Wayne Beadle in the end zone from 12 yards out to close the gap to 19-14.
UCF then gave the Cougars the ball right back with 3:02 to play after going three-and-out.
Houston went to the air and moved quickly, eventually using a 14-yard pass on third down by O'Korn to get into the red zone. But UCF held - and held on to sole possession of first place.
After defense-dominated first half, offense began to pick up in the final 30 minutes.
Houston's first possession of the second half ended abruptly when Alexander intercepted a deflected pass by O'Korn.
But the Knights turned it right back over when Bortles fumbled after being sacked from behind.
The Cougars worked quickly and needed just four plays to set up a 24-yard touchdown run by O'Korn to put them up 7-6.
The Knights offense recovered, and capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run by Stanback to make it 13-7.
UCF took a 6-0 halftime lead into halftime, but could have had a much larger cushion if not for some costly turnovers.
The first quarter ended without points for Houston, ending a streak of 39 straight quarters with points.
Greenberry finished with team-highs of eight catches for 94 yards.
Sophomore safety Trevon Stewart grabbed his team-leading fourth interception of the season on the second drive of the game.The Patterson, La., native led the team with 13 tackles for his fourth double-digit tackle effort of the year.
The Houston special teams added their fourth blocked kick of the year as B.J. Singleton claimed his third of the year to end UCF's Shawn Moffitt's perfect field goal streak (11-for-12 on the year).