ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Austin Davis threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns Saturday, helping Southern Mississippi rally to ruin No. 25 Central Florida's first national ranking with a 31-21 victory that also keeps the Eagles and the Pirates in the race for Conference USA's East Division title.
UCF won head-to-head so control the tiebreaker, but if the Pirates Win out and Central Florida loses one of its two remaining games (@ Tulane and @ Memphis) ECU will win the east division title. Which would put the Pirates in a 3rd straight conference championship game.
Davis overcame an early two-touchdown deficit with scoring passes of 5 yards to Johdrick Morris and 23 yards to Kelvin Bolden that put Southern Miss (7-3, 4-2) up 17-14 at halftime. Bolden's second TD reception broke the game open early in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Jeff Godfrey threw for 190 yards and two TDs for UCF (7-3, 5-1), which had averaged 41.4 points during a five-game winning streak that vaulted the Knights into the Top 25 for the first time in the school's 31-year football history.
UCF launched its program in Division III in 1979 and has always operated in the shadows of the state's Big Three - Florida, Florida State and Miami - and even close geographical rival South Florida, a former CUSA member that left the league for the Big East five years ago.
The Knights have raised their profile in seven seasons under George O'Leary, the former Georgia Teach coach who went 0-11 upon his arrival in 2004 but has since led the Knights to four winning records and three bowl appearances.
Davis completed 21 of 34 passes and Southern Miss did not turn the ball over to remain in contention for the East title and a spot in the Conference USA championship game on Dec. 4. UCF fell into a tie for first place in the division with East Carolina, one game ahead of the Eagles with two to play.
UCF scored on its first two possessions, with Ronnie Weaver racing 52 yards to set up Godfrey's 1-yard touchdown run and then breaking a 38-yarder during a nine-play, 99-yard march that Godfrey finished with a 4-yard TD pass to Brian Watters for a 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.
The remainder of the game belonged to Southern Miss, which intercepted Godfrey twice and limited Weaver to 2 yards rushing to shut down UCF in the second period and end the Knights' streak of scoring in 22 consecutive quarters.
The Eagles began their comeback with Danny Hrapmann's 31-yard goal. Davis threw a 10-yard scoring pass to DeAndre Brown for 24-14 lead late in the third quarter, then dumped UCF into a 17-point hole with a 26-yard TD throw to Bolden after UCF's Jamie Boyle missed on a 30-yard field goal try on the second play of the fourth quarter that would have trimmed the Knights' deficit to seven.
Godfrey completed 16 of 25 passes and was intercepted twice.