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UCF upsets No. 20 Cincinnati, 25-21, on last-minute TD

Oct 29, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights running back RJ Harvey (22) carries the ball during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

RJ Harvey scored two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 17-yard TD run with 48 seconds remaining as host UCF beat No. 20 Cincinnati 25-21 Saturday.

The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter and Harvey put the Knights ahead (6-2, 3-1 AAC) again when he impressively converted a 2-and-7.

Harvey ran up the middle, eluded three tackles and easily scored to give UCF a 24-21 lead. After the Knights easily made the extra point, their defense sealed it as KD McDaniel forced a fumble that pushed Cincinnati back to its own 5. Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste then broke up a pass by Ben Bryant on 3rd-and-30, and Bryant’s 4th-and-30 pass went for only 9 yards.

UCF’s final drive ended a six-game winning streak and a 19-game conference winning streak for the Bearcats (6-2, 3-1).

Harvey’s TD capped a big performance on the ground for UCF, which entered the game ranked sixth nationally in rushing. The Knights outgained Cincinnati by a commanding 258-35 margin, enabling them to secure 30 first downs and control possession for 37:05.

Harvey led all rushers with 84 yards on 18 attempts, including a 26-yard TD that gave UCF a 10-0 lead through the opening quarter.

UCF lost starting quarterback John Rhys-Plumlee midway through the second quarter. Plumlee absorbed a hit to the head by Cincinnati’s Arquon Bush with about seven minutes left and stumbled walking back to the huddle.

After Plumlee completed 7-of-11 passes for 71 yards, Mike Keane finished 15 of 21 for 176 yards. He also directed a 13-play drive that gave UCF an 18-13 lead with 4:36 remaining on Isiah Bowser’s 3-yard run out of the wildcat formation.

Following Bowser’s score, UCF missed the two-point conversion and Cincinnati went up 19-18 when Ryan Montgomery easily scored on a 39-yard run with 3:04 left. The Bearcats converted the two-point conversion when Tyler Scott made a leaping one-handed catch for a 21-18 lead.

Before UCF scored twice in the fourth, the Bearcats rallied from a 12-6 deficit to take a 13-12 lead on Josh Whyle’s 14-yard TD catch with seven seconds left in the third.

Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant completed 25 of 45 passes for 298 yards but also absorbed four sacks.

After UCF took a 10-0 lead late in the first, Cincinnati settled for two 33-yard field goals by Ryan Coe to get within 10-6 by halftime. After the Bearcats recovered a fumble by Bowser midway through the third, Bryant was sacked in the end zone for a safety with 7:52 left.

–Field Level Media