There was another first for the Temple football team on Saturday night, one the Owls least expected but one they were eventually able to overcome. For the first time this season, Temple trailed entering the fourth quarter.
Winless Central Florida took advantage of several Temple miscues and held a 16-14 lead entering the final period at Lincoln Financial Field.
Then, finally, Temple was able to assume control.
Jahad Thomas' 22-yard touchdown run, followed by Colin Thompson's sensational two-point conversion catch, gave Temple a 22-16 lead with 14 minutes, 3 seconds left. Temple did not relinquish the advantage on its way to a 30-16 win in the American Athletic Conference game.
The Owls are now bowl-eligible - 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the AAC. It's tied for the best start in school history. The Owls were 6-0 three previous times, most recently 1974.
"No one was worried about us being down. We had to take it one play at a time, and that is what we did," said Thomas, who rushed for 199 yards on 31 carries and three touchdowns, the final on a 21-yard run with 4:54 left.
The 31,372 at the Linc were holding their breath for a considerable time, especially since UCF (0-7) wasn't playing like a winless squad.
The Owls won despite committing four turnovers - one pick-six interception and three fumbles.
Once again the defense was dominating, holding UCF to 67 yards rushing and 67 passing.
Central Florida took its first lead of the game on Matthew Wright's third field goal, a 41-yarder with 11:39 left in the third quarter. That gave the Knights a 16-14 advantage.
Later in the quarter, the Knights had a chance for another score after recovering a fumble on a Temple snap out of the shotgun at the Owls' 29. Central Florida was stopped five plays later by a Sean Chandler interception.
Chandler later fumbled a punt and UCF's T.J. Mutcherson, who forced the turnover, recovered on the Owls' 41.
Shortly after, Chandler made amends by returning a punt 65 yards to the Central Florida 21, thanks to a key block by Sam Benjamin.
Two plays later, Thomas scored the go-ahead touchdown.
Temple scored on its first possession, on Thomas' 22-yard run. It was the first time this year the Owls scored on their first possession.
P.J. Walker hit Ventell Bryant in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard scoring pass with 10:47 left in the first half to increase Temple's lead to 14-3. It was the redshirt freshman's first career touchdown.
"I had uncharacteristic drops in the beginning of the game, and guys kept me up, and I said I will make plays for your guys," said Bryant, who had five receptions for 40 yards.
When Temple's Adonis Jennings blocked a punt on the next series, putting the ball on the UCF 29, it looked as if the Owls had a chance to put their foot on the gas.
The momentum suddenly swung two plays later, when Walker floated a pass to Kip Patton that was intercepted by Shaquill Griffin, who returned it 80 yards for a touchdown.
Later in the half, Mutcherson recovered Robby Anderson's fumbled punt on the Temple 20-yard line. Wright kicked a 27-yard field goal, making it 14-13 Temple at the half.