MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mikey Keene passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns and RJ Harvey rushed for 151 yards and a score to lead No. 25 UCF to a 35-28 win over Memphis on Saturday.
UCF (7-2, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) handed Memphis (4-5, 2-4) its fourth consecutive loss, the Tigers’ longest losing streak since 2013.
Keene was pressed into his first start of the season after quarterback John Rhys Plumlee suffered an injury in last weekend’s upset of nationally ranked Cincinnati. Plumlee sustained a possible concussion in UCF’s 25-21 victory over the Bearcats.
Keene rallied the Knights, who were held scoreless in the third quarter, by tossing two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The first was a 13-yard pass to Kobe Hudson early in the fourth quarter for a 28-21 UCF lead.
Hudson’s second TD reception of the game came after the Knights stopped the Tigers on downs at the UCF 39 in the closing minutes of the third quarter. Keene added his third TD pass — and second of the quarter —- with 4:58 left by finding Javon Baker on a perfect strike to the left corner of the end zone for a 35-21 advantage.
Keane, who completed 22 of 28 passes, was aided by a UCF defense that ranks No. 1 nationally in red zone defense. The Knights held Memphis scoreless on three trips inside the UCF 10-yard line in the first half.
Quarterback Seth Henigan passed for 284 yards and a touchdown to lead Memphis, but was intercepted twice. Henigan also led the Tigers with 69 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Harvey capped UCF’s opening drive with a 22-yard touchdown run, turning a busted play into a score by reversing field and breaking a tackle before reaching the end zone. He set up another TD with a 61-yard run.
UCF stopped a potential Memphis scoring drive late in the first quarter as nose tackle Anthony Montalvo dropped running back Jevyon Ducker for a one-yard loss on 4th-and-1 from the UCF 6.
The Tigers put together the first scoring drive of the second half to tie the game, 21-all, wth Ducker’s 1-yard run.
UCF: Playing without Plumlee, the Knights’ offense was productive enough behind Keene. Despite being limited to 38 yards in the third quarter, the Knights recovered to score the go-ahead touchdown with 12:19 to go.
Memphis: Entering the game with a three-game losing streak that has placed pressure on coach Ryan Silverfield, the Tigers kept pace with the Knights before faltering.
UCF should remain in the Top 25 with an opportunity to move up the rankings next against a nationally ranked Tulane team that improved to 8-1 Saturday with a win over Tulsa
UCF travels to No. 19 Tulane on Saturday.
Memphis remains home against Tulsa on Thursday.