No. 22 UCF survived an upset attempt from rival South Florida in the War for I-4 with a miraculous one-handed touchdown with 20 seconds left to pull off a 46-39 victory. The come-from-behind victory earned UCF a trip to the AAC Championship Game.
Facing third-and-8 at the USF 14-yard line, UCF quarterback Mikey Keene dropped back and launched a throw to the near corner of the end zone. Tight end Alec Holler turned around and tracked the ball at the last moment, and somehow came down with a season-saving catch for the Knights.
South Florida had 20 seconds remaining to set up a Hail Mary and got all the way to the UCF 31-yard line. The Bulls launched a pass to 6-foot-4 receiver Holden Willis, who was able to get over the defense. Unfortunately for USF, there was just too much traffic for Willis to come down with the ball.
UCF was a 20-point favorite against its rival, which came into the final week of the regular season sporting a 1-10 record. The Knights just had to win as massive favorites against South Florida to clinch a spot in its final AAC Championship Game before leaving for the Big 12 in 2023. A loss would have sent two-time defending champion Cincinnati to the final instead.
Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee completed all nine pass attempts for 73 yards, rushed for 133 yards and added three total touchdowns before leaving with an injury. South Florida ran for 298 yards and four touchdowns behind 144 yards from running back Brian Battie. However, the Bulls will simply have to wonder what could have been as their season ends at 1-11 after firing coach Jeff Scott.
UCF now travels to New Orleans and will face off against No. 19 Tulane in the AAC Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 3.