HOUSTON -- Brandon Alexander forced a game-saving fumble with 24 seconds left, and Justin Holman threw two touchdown passes to help UCF beat Houston 17-12 on Thursday night in the American Athletic opener for both teams.
Alexander hit Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.'s arm as he dove and stretched for the end-zone pylon at the end of a 19-yard run, jarring the ball loose for a touchback. The official's call was confirmed by video review.
"The quarterback broke and I just knew his intent was not to pass, it was to run," Alexander said. "So, he just dove. When he dove, I dove. Everything happens for a reason. I just laid on the ground real quick.:
Alexander also had nine tackles and an interception. Last year at home against Houston, Alexander broke up a four-down pass in the end zone to help the Knights hold off the Cougars.
"Any win's a good win," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "It's a good first conference game. ... Houston's a good offense. I thought, except for a couple series, the back end played very well today and tackled well."
Holman was 6 of 18 for 101 yards and ran for 32 yards on nine carries for the Knights (2-2).
Ward was 10 of 17 for 116 yards for Houston (2-3). John O'Korn also played quarterback for the Cougars, going 12 of 26 for 98 yards.
UCF took a 17-6 lead in the third quarter on Holman's 52-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman, and Shawn Moffitt's 42-yard field goal. Houston cut it to 17-12 in the fourth on Kyle Bullard's 51- and 49-yard field goals.
UCF led 7-6 at halftime on Holman's 6-yard touchdown pass to Jackie Williams in the second quarter. Bullard made field goals of 39 and 42 yards.
Jaryl Mamea had a career high three sacks for UCF. The Knights ran their regular-season conference winning streak to 10 and improved to 5-1 against Houston.
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