NCAA Football – NCAA G.J. Kinne threw for a go-ahead touchdown and Kevin Fitzpatrick added three field goals as Tulsa hung on to beat Central Florida 24-17 on Thursday night football.
It was the Golden Hurricane’s first victory this season after trailing at halftime and came despite settling for field goals on three trips inside the red zone.
The Knights (4-4, 2-2 Conference USA) lost at home for the first time this season, while Tulsa (5-3, 5-0) remained unbeaten in the league.
UCF, the defending conference champions, controlled the game early, but failed on a fourth-down pass midway in the fourth quarter that allowed Tulsa to run out the clock.
Kinne finished 15 of 28 for 203 yards and he led the Golden Hurricane in rushing with 92 yards on 14 carries.
It was just enough to outduel Knights’ quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who had one of his best games throwing for 226 yards and one touchdown.
Tulsa entered Thursday’s game injury-free, but played part of the second half without running back Trey Watts, who left the game after taking a blow to the head.
Cornerback Milton Howell, who tied a school record with three interceptions last week, was also shaken up several times in the game.
The Golden Hurricane came in having outscored their opponents 154-71 in the last four wins.
The Knights used a field goal to briefly take a 17-16 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Tulsa needed just over three minutes to drive 72 yards to take a 24-17 lead on a 16-yard pass from Kinne to Clay Sears with 8:23 to play.
UCF responded quickly, using a 41-yard pass from Godfrey to J.J. Worton to set up a first-and-goal. But a fourth-down pass by Godfrey into the end zone was incomplete.
Tulsa took over on downs and was able to run out the clock.
The Knights put their pregame strategy of controlling time of possession into action in the first half, holding the ball for more than 19 minutes.
UCF went to work quickly on its opening drive, though, needing only seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Godfrey to Worton.
Tulsa tied it two series later following a 19-yard run by Willie Carter — the first offensive score the Knights have given up at home this season. But that momentum was short-lived with the Golden Hurricane having to settle for field goals on two subsequent trips inside the red zone later in the half.
With more than five minutes to work with before halftime, the Knights were able to add their second touchdown — a 6-yard run by Ronnie Weaver — to take a 1-point halftime lead.