TAMPA (WFLA) –  Saturday’s War on I-4 was the last meeting of  the USF Bulls and UCF Knights football teams until at least 2028. As the last game, it lived up to its’ promise to be a nail biter until the end – and the full house of fans from both schools were vocal and loyal, staying until the last seconds.

UCF is one of four schools moving to the Big 12. This move may limit the opportunity for the cross-state rivals to meet in the future as USF is staying in the American conference. The win gives the Knights an 8-6 record by posting their sixth straight victory in the War on I-4.

USF (1-11; 0-8 AAC) showed grit as they battled back from a 28-point deficit to take a late lead before falling 46-39 to No. 25 UCF (9-3; 6-2 AAC) on a touchdown with 20 seconds to play.

UCF brought the No. 13-ranked offense into the game and quickly showed its potence as the Knights leapt to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter and compiled 245 rushing yards in the first half. UCF took advantage of two first half USF turnovers to seize control of the game before the Bulls got on the board with a Byrum Brown two-yard touchdown pass to Sean Atkins with 40 seconds to play in the first half.

The Knights led 31-7 in the third quarter before USF scored 22 unanswered points to close within two, 31-29, and then took a late fourth quarter lead, 39-38, following a 42-yard Brown touchdown run.

The Bulls forced three second half turnovers, including getting the ball back at the UCF 49 with 5:13 to play and leading by one, but couldn’t gain a first down and gave the ball back to UCF with 2:49 to play. The Knights drove 82 yards in eight plays and grabbed the victory on a 14-yard Mikey Keene pass to tight end Alec Haller with 20 seconds to play. Haller was ruled to have gotten his toe just inbounds inside the pylon on review.

UCF finished with 547 yards of offense behind 133 yards rushing from quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and 73 yards and one touchdown passing. The Knights posted 345 yards rushing on the day.

USF posted a season-best 298 yards on the ground led by Brian Battie who posted 144 yards and a touchdown to log a USF record tying fifth-straight 100-yard game. Brown threw for 140 yards and a touchdown and ran for 109 and two touchdowns in his second career start.

In addition to Battie, QB Byram Brown ran for 109 yards. Both Brown(Fr) and Battie (So) should return next year.

Next on the Bulls agenda is finding a new head coach. Jeff Scott was let go in early November after a 4-26 record over 3 seasons and special teams coach Daniel Da Prato served as interim head coach for the last three games of the season.