UCF held a 14-3 lead at halftime over FIU Thursday night at Bright House Networks Stadium. But a pair of FIU touchdowns and a blocked field goal in the final minute lifted the Panthers over the Knights 15-14.
Trailing 3-0, UCF took the lead on a Justin Holman-to-Jordan Akins 9-yard scoring strike. The touchdown was set up by a turnover, when Chequan Burkett forced a Panther fumble at the FIU 26-yard line.
On its next possession, UCF marched 70 yards in seven plays. A 20-yard Holman-to-Akins completion put the ball in FIU territory. Three plays later, Akins was wide open in the seam for a 33-yard score. But that was the last time UCF would get on the board.
"You don't block or tackle or the things you're supposed to do fundamentally ... that's usually the end result," UCF head coach George O'Leary said. "We didn't make enough plays in any phase."
FIU held UCF to just 46 yards rushing in the contest and just four yards in the second half.
"I didn't think we made any movement up front, at all," O'Leary said.
The Panthers put together two touchdown drives of 80 or more yards -- one midway through the third quarter and one early in the fourth -- to take a 15-14 lead. Two-point conversion attempts after both scores failed.
The Knights had one last chance to take the victory late in the contest. The defense forced a three-and-out, holding on 3rd-and-1. UCF drove inside the FIU 25-yard line.
"We are on the 25-yard line, you just maintain your distance and that kid makes field goals blindfolded from there," O'Leary said.
But a penalty pushed the Knights back to the 30.Matthew Wright's 47-yard field goal attempt with 30 seconds left was blocked.
Aim for Akins; Toss it to Tre'Quan
• Akins, a sophomore from McDonough, Ga. Scored his first two career touchdowns.
• Akins finished with nine receptions for 104 yards, both career-best marks.
• Tre'Quan Smith, a redshirt freshman from Delray Beach, Fla., matched Akins' nine receptions and 104 yards in his first collegiate contest.
• The last time UCF had two 100-yard receivers in the same game was Nov. 16, 2013 at Temple (J.J. Worton-179; Rannell Hall-159).
Surpassing 2 Million At Bright House
• With an announced attendance of 39,184, Bright House Networks Stadium saw its 2 millionth fan come through the gates.
• Bright House Networks Stadium has seen 2,021,448 fans attend UCF games since the venue opened in 2007.