HOUSTON — Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. ran for two touchdowns and passed for one in the second half to help the Cougars erase a 21-point third-quarter deficit for a 31-24 victory over UCF on Saturday.
The Cougars, who were No. 6 before losing two of three to fall out of the rankings, could get back in the AP top 25 after their comeback against the Knights.
Matthew Wright's 41-yard field goal gave UCF a 24-3 lead early in the second half before the Cougars' defense stiffened, holding the Knights to minus-5 yards of offense in the third quarter and 29 for the half.
"The team played great in the first half," UCF coach Scott Frost said. "… In fairness, we got a lot of breaks in the first half. Houston made all the mistakes in the first half. We have to be smarter. We had four turnovers (in the second half). When you've got a team like that down, you can't do those things."
Ward rallied the Cougars with touchdown runs of 1 and 14 yards and a 6-yard scoring pass to tight end Romello Brooker. Duke Catalon added a 12-yard rushing score. Two of UCF's turnovers set up Houston scores.
Ward threw for 240 yards but had three interceptions, all in the first half when UCF led 21-3 on three rushing touchdowns.
UCF outside linebacker Shaquem Griffin, a Lakewood High graduate, set a career high and game high with 14 tackles, 12 solo.
Temple 34, Cincinnati 13: Phillip Walker threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns and Ryquell Armstead ran for back-to-back scores as the host Owls stayed tied with USF for first in the East. Temple holds the tiebreaker over the Bulls with its victory over USF last weekend. Defensive back Delvon Randall recovered a fumble by Bearcats quarterback Gunner Kiel to set up Temple's first touchdown, Walker's 40-yard pass to Adonis Jennings, for a 10-0 lead. Walker later hit former Jefferson High standout Ventell Bryant for a 28-yard score.
East Carolina 41, UConn 3: Isaiah Jones moved into second on the NCAA career reception list with 19 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown for the host Pirates. Jones has 355 catches, six more than former Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles, and trails only former ECU teammate Justin Hardy (387). Philip Nelson threw for 253 yards and two scores for the Pirates.
SMU 35, Tulane 31: Braeden West ran for two touchdowns in the final 6:24 to lead the visiting Mustangs to a comeback win.