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Winless to unbeaten: No. 12 UCF beats USF to cap turnaround

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Central Florida has gone from winless to unbeaten in 729 days.

Less than two years after finishing 0-12, the 12th-ranked Knights completed the first unbeaten regular season in program history on Friday with a wild 49-42 victory over No. 19 South Florida.

Not only does the victory give UCF one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Football Bowl Subdivision history, but it also clinched the American Athletic Conference's East Division title. The Knights (11-0, 8-0 AAC, CFP No. 15) will host Memphis in the conference title game on Dec. 2.

''This place is really special and tonight I saw a glimpse of what it could be,'' said UCF coach Scott Frost, who inherited a team that finished winless in 2015. ''We started at the bottom two years ago. I knew we could be good but not that it could happen this fast.

''I got to be honest if you told me at the beginning of the year that I would be sitting here at 11-0. I would have called you crazy.''

In a game with 1,186 yards of offense - including a school-record 605 from South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers - it ended up being special teams that made the difference.

The Bulls (9-2, 6-2) tied it at 42 when Flowers connected with Darnel Salomon for an 83-yard touchdown, and then found D'Ernest Johnson for a 2-point play. On the ensuing kickoff, UCF's Mike Hughes found an opening on the right side of USF's coverage before breaking through and changing direction up the left sideline for a 95-yard touchdown with 1:28 remaining.

''We definitely needed a big play. I had a couple of cutback lanes and was able to find a crease,'' said Hughes, who has two kick return touchdowns this season.

Hughes' touchdown capped a crazy 53-second span where the Knights took an eight-point lead, South Florida tied it and then the Knights took the lead for good.

''It's a blur. I'm going to have to watch a replay to remember all of what happened,'' Frost said. ''I was on the headset kind of in disbelief that we gave up that touchdown. I was hoping we could get a decent return to midfield so that we could make a first down or two to be in field goal range. Man, he hit that thing full speed.''

McKenzie Milton, who was 29 of 44 for 373 yards and four touchdowns, said his heart skipped a couple beats watching the return.

''I thought we were going to have the chance to go down for a two-minute drill and he took the game out of our hands. I don't want to say I'm happy but I'm really happy he did that,'' Milton said.

South Florida drove to midfield late, but Mitchell Wilcox fumbled after a 10-yard catch at the Knights' 45 and it was recovered by Chequan Burkett.

Coach Charlie Strong said that up until Hughes' return, the Bulls had done a good job on kickoff coverage that he decided to go with his normal unit.

''I could have run my victory kickoff which was all my guys and a lot of my starters on defense,'' he said.

UCF led 21-7 late in the first quarter but South Florida took a 34-28 lead with 3:41 remaining in the game on Flowers' 24-yard touchdown run, which marked the first time this season that the Knights had trailed in the second half.

UCF scored on its first three drives but then had only one touchdown on the next 10 as USF went to six-defensive back defense.

''We did some good things against it but weren't expecting it. That's not a defense you typically practice much against,'' Frost said.

THE TAKEAWAY

USF: Flowers gets forgotten among college football's star quarterbacks, but his career puts him among the most productive ever. He became the sixth player in FBS history with 60-plus passing touchdowns and 40 or more rushing scores.

UCF: The Knights are in the driver's seat for possibly making a major New Year's bowl for the second time in five seasons.

RECORD DAYS NOT ENOUGH

Flowers set USF single-game records for total offense and passing yards (503). He had 348 passing yards alone in the first half.

''That was a tough one, a tough loss. ... You look at the performance by Quinton and it was a great performance. Offensively, we were able to match them score by score,'' Strong said.

Flowers, who was 24 of 45, had six completions of 30 yards or more. He also had three runs of 15 yards or more.

''I was telling myself whatever you have to do, just do it. I was locked in and mentally focused,'' he said.

Tryre McCants had already set a USF single-game receiving record with 6 minutes remaining in the first half and finished with 227 yards on nine receptions.

RUMOR MILL

Frost is likely to draw interest from Florida and Nebraska, but he said after the game that he would not be meeting with Gators officials on Saturday.

''I'm my representative, and I'm going to be with my wife and baby,'' he said. ''Probably in the next 24 hours I will get rid of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.''

UP NEXT

USF: The Bulls prepare for a third straight bowl appearance and ninth overall.

UCF: The Knights will try to make it 2-0 against Memphis this season. They beat the Tigers 40-13 in September. And then they'll see if Frost remains their coach.

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Follow Joe Reedy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joereedy

Copyright 2017 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 1:28
11-M.Wright extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
42
49
Touchdown 1:28
35-E.Nadelman kicks 60 yards from USF 35. 19-M.Hughes runs 95 yards for a touchdown.
1
plays
63
yds
00:13
pos
42
48
Two Point Conversion 1:41
9-Q.Flowers complete to 2-D.Johnson. 2-D.Johnson to UCF End Zone for 2 yards. Conversion is good.
plays
yds
pos
42
42
Touchdown 1:41
9-Q.Flowers complete to 3-D.Salomon. 3-D.Salomon runs 83 yards for a touchdown.
2
plays
83
yds
00:34
pos
40
42
Point After TD 2:21
11-M.Wright extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
34
42
Touchdown 2:21
10-M.Milton complete to 26-O.Anderson. 26-O.Anderson runs 23 yards for a touchdown.
7
plays
95
yds
02:12
pos
34
41
Point After TD 7:33
11-M.Wright extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
34
35
Touchdown 7:33
10-M.Milton complete to 5-D.Snelson. 5-D.Snelson runs 45 yards for a touchdown.
4
plays
72
yds
00:35
pos
34
34
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 3:41
35-E.Nadelman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
34
28
Touchdown 3:41
9-Q.Flowers scrambles runs 24 yards for a touchdown.
4
plays
40
yds
00:55
pos
33
28
Point After TD 4:42
35-E.Nadelman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
27
28
Touchdown 4:42
6-D.Tice runs 6 yards for a touchdown.
11
plays
78
yds
03:41
pos
26
28
Point After TD 8:30
11-M.Wright extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
20
28
Touchdown 8:30
10-M.Milton complete to 13-G.Davis. 13-G.Davis runs 23 yards for a touchdown.
6
plays
54
yds
01:52
pos
20
27
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 2:09
35-E.Nadelman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
20
21
Touchdown 2:09
9-Q.Flowers complete to 89-M.Wilcox. 89-M.Wilcox runs 21 yards for a touchdown.
11
plays
89
yds
03:26
pos
19
21
Missed Point After Touchdown 11:46
35-E.Nadelman extra point is no good.
plays
yds
pos
13
15
Touchdown 11:46
9-Q.Flowers complete to 12-T.Alaka. 12-T.Alaka runs 20 yards for a touchdown.
8
plays
88
yds
02:03
pos
13
21
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 2:23
11-M.Wright extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
21
Point After TD 5:41
11-M.Wright extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
14
Touchdown 5:41
10-M.Milton complete to 5-D.Snelson. 5-D.Snelson runs 16 yards for a touchdown.
10
plays
70
yds
02:55
pos
7
13
Point After TD 11:16
11-M.Wright extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
7
Touchdown 11:16
10-M.Milton runs 3 yards for a touchdown.
11
plays
53
yds
02:36
pos
7
6
Point After TD 13:52
35-E.Nadelman extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
0
Touchdown 13:52
9-Q.Flowers complete to 8-T.McCants. 8-T.McCants runs 47 yards for a touchdown.
3
plays
69
yds
00:59
pos
6
0
Team Stats
1st Downs 27 32
Rushing 10 10
Passing 16 17
Penalty 1 5
3rd Down Conv 8-17 6-14
4th Down Conv 0-1 0-2
Total Net Yards 625 528
Total Plays 84 84
Avg Gain 7.4 6.3
Net Yards Rushing 145 155
Rush Attempts 38 41
Avg Rush Yards 3.8 3.8
Net Yards Passing 480 373
Comp. - Att. 24-45 29-44
Yards Per Pass 10.7 8.5
Sacked - Yards Lost 3-23 0-0
Penalties - Yards 10-102 6-38
Touchdowns 6 7
Rushing TDs 2 2
Passing TDs 4 4
Other 0 1
Turnovers 2 1
Fumbles - Lost 1-1 0-0
Int. Thrown 1 1
Punts - Avg 6-48.8 5-37.0
Return Yards 170 149
Punts - Returns 1-13 2-28
Kickoffs - Returns 8-157 2-125
Int. - Returns 1-0 1--4
Kicking 4/6 7/7
Extra Points 4/5 7/7
Field Goals 0/1 0/0
Safeties 0 0
1234T
South Florida 9-2 71314842
15 UCF 11-0 21072149
480 PASS YDS 373
145 RUSH YDS 155
625 TOTAL YDS 528
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
Q. Flowers 9 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
53.3% 503 4 1 172.1
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
53.4% 2600 21 6 139.6
Q. Flowers 24/45 503 4 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
Q. Flowers 9 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
20 102 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
182 972 10
Q. Flowers 20 102 1 24
D. Johnson 2 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
11 30 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
177 745 7
D. Johnson 11 30 0 10
D. Tice 6 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
8 18 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
162 878 11
D. Tice 8 18 1 10
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
T. McCants 8 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
9 227 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
30 598 5
T. McCants 9 227 1 55
D. Salomon 3 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 139 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
28 465 4
D. Salomon 5 139 1 83
E. Dillon 85 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 56 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
11 119 0
E. Dillon 3 56 0 37
M. Wilcox 89 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 51 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
15 141 2
M. Wilcox 3 51 1 21
T. Alaka 12 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 20 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
16 241 2
T. Alaka 1 20 1 20
M. Valdes-Scantling 11 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 9 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
50 746 5
M. Valdes-Scantling 2 9 0 6
D. Johnson 2 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 1 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
10 128 2
D. Johnson 1 1 0 1
Defense T-A SACK INT
K. McGee 21 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
9-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-1 0 0.0
K. McGee 9-1 0.0 0
T. Fullwood 13 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-0 1 0.0
T. Fullwood 8-0 0.0 0
R. Hoggins 19 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-1 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-1 2 0.0
R. Hoggins 6-1 0.0 1
G. Reaves 41 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
G. Reaves 5-0 0.0 0
D. Nichols 3 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 3 0.0
D. Nichols 5-1 0.0 0
D. Senat 10 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
D. Senat 4-1 0.0 0
M. Love 98 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
M. Love 3-1 0.0 0
M. Wilkins 23 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 3 0.0
M. Wilkins 3-1 0.0 0
J. Thomas 18 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
J. Thomas 3-2 0.0 0
B. Hector 60 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
B. Hector 2-0 0.0 0
N. Culpepper 27 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
N. Culpepper 2-0 0.0 0
K. Kegler 90 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
K. Kegler 2-1 0.0 0
N. Sawtelle 54 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 2 0.0
N. Sawtelle 1-0 0.0 0
D. Abraham 20 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-3 4 0.0
D. Abraham 1-3 0.0 0
A. Sanchez 43 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-2 2 0.0
A. Sanchez 0-2 0.0 0
J. Black 55 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
J. Black 0-1 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
E. Nadelman 35 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/1 4/5
SEASON FG XP
20/24 47/51
E. Nadelman 0/1 0 4/5 4
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
J. Hernandez 44 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 48.8 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
58 43.2 1
J. Hernandez 6 48.8 1 59
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
C. Barr 1 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
4 16.3 27 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 16.3 27 0
C. Barr 4 16.3 27 0
D. Johnson 2 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 24.0 37 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
8 19.4 37 0
D. Johnson 3 24.0 37 0
Q. Flowers 9 QB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 20.0 20 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 20.0 20 0
Q. Flowers 1 20.0 20 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Fullwood 13 S
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 13.0 13 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
12 13.3 13 0
T. Fullwood 1 13.0 13 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
M. Milton 10 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
65.9% 373 4 1 162.6
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
69.1% 3301 30 6 182.9
M. Milton 29/44 373 4 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
A. Killins Jr. 9 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
15 82 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
99 711 9
A. Killins Jr. 15 82 1 21
M. Milton 10 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
11 56 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
82 429 6
M. Milton 11 56 1 13
O. Anderson 26 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
10 30 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
43 343 3
O. Anderson 10 30 0 15
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
D. Snelson 5 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 81 2
SEASON REC YDS TD
33 511 5
D. Snelson 4 81 2 45
T. Smith 4 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 71 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
48 921 11
T. Smith 4 71 0 30
O. Anderson 26 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 49 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
25 316 2
O. Anderson 5 49 1 23
G. Davis 13 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 44 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
24 351 4
G. Davis 2 44 1 23
J. Akins 88 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 42 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
26 393 3
J. Akins 4 42 0 13
M. Colubiale 86 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 42 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
9 189 1
M. Colubiale 2 42 0 27
A. Killins Jr. 9 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
6 31 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
24 166 1
A. Killins Jr. 6 31 0 10
M. Williams 17 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 13 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
14 224 2
M. Williams 1 13 0 13
J. Franks 15 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
12 120 0
J. Franks 1 0 0 0
C. Stewart 11 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
5 173 1
C. Stewart 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
S. Griffin 18 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-0 1 0.0
S. Griffin 8-0 0.0 0
T. Neal 23 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-1 2 0.0
T. Neal 6-1 0.0 0
K. Gibson 25 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 4 0.0
K. Gibson 5-1 0.0 0
T. Davis 10 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-2 1 0.0
T. Davis 5-2 0.0 0
P. Jasinski 56 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 1 0.0
P. Jasinski 5-1 0.0 0
J. Pittman 5 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 1.0
J. Pittman 3-0 1.0 0
B. Moore 20 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 1 0.0
B. Moore 3-0 0.0 0
C. Burkett 2 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 1.0
C. Burkett 3-2 1.0 0
J. Connors 91 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
J. Connors 2-0 0.0 0
M. Hughes 19 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 4 0.0
M. Hughes 2-0 0.0 1
N. Clarke 14 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 1 0.0
N. Clarke 2-1 0.0 0
T. Guerad 93 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 1.0
T. Guerad 2-1 1.0 0
T. Hill 9 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-3 0 0.0
T. Hill 2-3 0.0 0
S. Lowry 49 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 2 0.0
S. Lowry 1-0 0.0 0
R. Grant 27 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
R. Grant 1-0 0.0 0
A. Wooten 54 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
A. Wooten 1-0 0.0 0
Ke. Johnson 29 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
Ke. Johnson 1-0 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
M. Wright 11 K
IN-GAME FG XP
0/0 7/7
SEASON FG XP
9/12 68/69
M. Wright 0/0 0 7/7 7
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
M. Loudermilk 48 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
5 37.0 2
SEASON NO AVG IN20
39 40.1 2
M. Loudermilk 5 37.0 2 41
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
M. Hughes 19 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 62.5 95 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
15 34.9 95 1
M. Hughes 2 62.5 95 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
M. Hughes 19 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 14.0 17 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
13 17.8 17 1
M. Hughes 2 14.0 17 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:51 SFLA 31 0:59 3 69 TD
11:06 SFLA 20 2:25 6 50 Downs
5:33 SFLA 23 1:03 4 53 FG Miss
2:15 SFLA 10 1:27 5 7 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:49 SFLA 9 2:03 8 91 TD
10:04 SFLA 20 2:52 6 32 Punt
5:35 SFLA 16 3:26 11 84 TD
0:55 SFLA 40 0:34 4 -29 INT
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:33 SFLA 28 1:01 3 -9 Punt
8:23 SFLA 22 3:41 11 78 TD
4:36 UCF 40 0:55 4 40 TD
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
2:06 SFLA 25 1:38 7 15 Punt
10:10 SFLA 33 1:55 3 -3 Punt
7:29 SFLA 20 2:48 10 31 Punt
2:15 SFLA 27 0:34 2 83 TD
1:20 SFLA 44 0:46 6 21 Game
0:47 SFLA 45 0:00 1 9 Fumble
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:52 UCF 32 2:36 11 53 TD
8:36 UCF 30 2:55 10 70 TD
4:30 UCF 24 2:07 7 76
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
0:37 UCF 49 0:00 4 5 Punt
11:46 UCF 25 1:35 6 28 Punt
7:04 UCF 20 1:22 4 24 Punt
2:09 UCF 25 1:00 3 8 Punt
0:16 UCF 11 0:00 2 -2 Halftime
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 UCF 25 3:22 9 47 Downs
10:22 SFLA 49 1:52 6 49 TD
4:42 UCF 25 0:00 1 75 INT
3:41 UCF 25 1:28 3 9 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:41 UCF 6 4:28 12 61 Downs
8:08 UCF 28 0:35 4 72 TD
4:33 UCF 20 2:12 7 80 TD
1:41 SFLA 35 0:13 1 63 TD
0:39 UCF 46 0:12 3 -10 Game