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UCF's Blake Bortles leads late rally to keep BCS hopes alive

Reinhold Matay / Associated Press
Central Florida QB Blake Bortles capped a fourth-quarter rally with a go-ahead 52-yard TD pass Friday.

UCF junior quarterback Blake Bortles led his fourth fourth-quarter rally of the season Friday to help the 19th-ranked Knights escape with a 23-20 victory over South Florida.

UCF committed five turnovers, including a fumble and two interceptions by Bortles (6-foot-4, 230 pounds). But Bortles threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman with 4:50 left in the game to provide the winning points, and the Knights (10-1) remained on track for the first BCS appearance in school history.

The TD pass finished off a three-play, 67-yard drive that lasted 1:04. On the pass, USF was in single coverage on Perriman, and freshman cornerback Lamar Robbins bit on a pump fake by Bortles, then watched Perriman fly unimpeded down the sideline, gather in the pass and run untouched into the end zone.

Bortles also led fourth-quarter comebacks against Memphis, Louisville and Temple. But what has to irk veteran UCF coach George O'Leary is that his team struggled against Memphis, Temple and USF, which have a combined five wins.

Bortles was 17-of-26 for 219 yards, two TDs and the two interceptions, giving him 3,038 yards, 22 TDs and seven interceptions this season. He completed 65.4 percent of his passes Friday, snapping a streak of four consecutive games with at least a 70.0 percent completion rate.

UCF was held to 296 total yards and was just 1 of 9 on third-down conversions.

UCF finishes its regular season next Saturday at SMU. Win, and the Knights get the AAC's automatic BCS bid. UCF could get the bid with a loss if Louisville beats Cincinnati on Thursday. But if Cincinnati wins and SMU wins, UCF and Cincinnati finish in a tie for the league's title; whichever team ranks higher in the final BCS standings would win a tiebreaker.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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