UCF Knights fans cheer in the first half of the game against the South Florida Bulls at Bright House Networks Stadium. (Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- Breshad Perriman scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bortles with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter to give No. 17 UCF a 23-20 win over South Florida Friday night, keeping the Knights on course for a conference title and BCS bid.
UCF (10-1, 7-0 American Athletic Conference) secured at least a share of the conference title. A victory against SMU next week will give the Knights the title outright and their first bid to the BCS.
And they beat the Bulls, despite committing five turnovers, including three by Bortles.
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USF (2-9, 2-5) had a final chance to win or send the game to overtime, but Jordan Ozerities intercepted Mike White's pass and returned 52 yards with 1:20 left in the game to seal the win.
The Bulls came into the game with just nine offensive touchdowns on the season, but had a pair rushing scores by Chris Dunkley and Marcus Shaw.
Bortles, who came into the game throwing just five interceptions on the season, finished 17 for 26 for 219 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had a fumble.
White, one of three quarterbacks USF has used this season, was steady at times completing 15 of 34 passes for 211 yards. Andre Davis caught seven passes for 87 yards.
USF took a 20-16 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Shaw with 14:17 left.
UCF took back over with 6:54 remaining, but Bortles was picked off on the first play of the drive to give the ball back to USF inside the Knights' 35.
The Bulls' ensuing drive stalled and a 51-yard field goal attempt by Marvin Kloss sailed wide right to set up the Knights go-ahead drive.
USF drove to UCF's 39 in its final drive, but White's third-down pass was intercepted by Ozerities.
Miscues by the Knights allowed the Bulls to stay in the game in the final 30 minutes.
Leading by seven at the break, UCF's fourth turnover of the game - a fumble by Bortles inside UCF's 30 - allowed USF to tie the game at 13-13 late in the third quarter.
The Bulls needed three plays to get into the end zone, scoring on an 13-yard end around run by Dunkley.
The Knights came right back, though, using a long kickoff return to Rannell Hall to set up 29-yard field goal by Shawn Moffitt to put them briefly back in front by three.
The first half had disastrous moments on both sides, though UCF managed just enough success to take a 13-6 lead into halftime.
UCF survived three turnovers, taking its first lead of the game late in the half thanks in part to failed USF gamble.
Leading 6-3, the Bulls went for it on fourth-and-2 on UCF's 8, but the snap from center Austin Reiter never reached White, and was recovered the Knights.
UCF's offense quickly went to work and capped a methodical 12-play, 92-yard drive that ate up more than 6 minutes with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to Justin Tukes that made it 10-6.