Dillon Gabriel threw three touchdown passes against his former team, Oklahoma stopped a two-point conversion attempt in the closing minutes and the No. 6 Sooners held on to beat UCF 31-29 on Saturday.
Gabriel, who transferred before the 2022 season, connected on 25 of 38 passes for 253 yards.
Nic Anderson caught five passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns and Drake Stoops caught seven passes for 60 yards and a score for the Sooners (7-0, 4-0 Big 12).
John Rhys Plumlee, who missed most of the past month with a leg injury, passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns for UCF. Javon Baker had five catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns and RJ Harvey ran for 101 yards for the Knights (3-4, 0-4), who are still seeking their first Big 12 win.
With Oklahoma leading 7-0 early in the second quarter, the Sooners appeared to have a goal-line stand, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against linebacker Jaren Kanak gave the Knights a first down. Plumlee scored on the next play to tie the game at 7.
Oklahoma pulled ahead 14-10 on a 42-yard pass from Gabriel to Anderson, but UCF answered 27 seconds later with an 86-yard touchdown pass from Plumlee to Baker.
Oklahoma’s Zach Schmit made a field goal to close the half after missing his first two attempts, and the game was tied at 17. UCF took a 23-17 lead into the fourth quarter.
Gabriel’s swing pass to Drake Stoops went for a 11-yard touchdown to tie the game, and Schmit’s extra point put the Sooners up 24-23. Oklahoma’s Gavin Sawchuk and Marcus Major combined for 49 yards on five carries on the drive.
Sawchuk’s 30-yard touchdown run on the next Oklahoma drive put the Sooners up 31-23 with 3:13 to play.
UCF responded with Baker scoring on a 12-yard touchdown reception with 1:16 to play. The Knights tried for a game-tying two-point conversion, but Oklahoma’s Kendel Dolby dragged down Xavier Townsend on a trick play. Oklahoma’s Austin Stogner recovered UCF’s onside kick, and the Sooners ran out the clock.
The Sooners were heavily favored and probably will slip a few spots despite holding on for the win.
UCF: The Knights were just a few plays away, and Plumlee looked solid in his return. A defense that had been shredded for much of the season put up a valiant effort.
Oklahoma: The Sooners figured out a way to hold on after making so many early mistakes. They found some success with the run game in the fourth quarter, which gave them more balance and made them successful late in the game.
UCF: Hosts West Virginia on Saturday.
Oklahoma: Visits Kansas on Saturday.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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