Desmond Ridder shines as No. 7/8 Cincinnati defeats No. 9/7 Notre Dame 24-13 in South Bend

Desmond Ridder shines as No. 7/8 Cincinnati defeats No. 9/7 Notre Dame 24-13 in South Bend....
Desmond Ridder shines as No. 7/8 Cincinnati defeats No. 9/7 Notre Dame 24-13 in South Bend. Photo by Cincinnati Enquirer.(Cincinnati Enquirer)
Published: Oct. 2, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Cincinnati Enquirer) – A top-10 matchup between two teams vying for the College Football Playoff started slowly but wound up living up to the hype Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

No. 7/8-ranked (Associated Press/Coaches) University of Cincinnati football team forced three turnovers, senior quarterback Desmond Ridder accounted for three touchdowns and the Bearcats held on to defeat the No. 9/7-ranked Fighting Irish, 24-13.

With Cincinnati (4-0) ahead 17-13 with 5:08 remaining, Ridder scored on a 6-yard run to put the game out of reach. The touchdown capped a six-play, 75-yard drive that will go down as one of the biggest in program history.

Ridder completed 19 of 32 passes for 292 yards and had had two passing touchdowns to go with the rushing score.

Ridder and the Bearcats handed Brian Kelly his first loss in a top-10 matchup as Notre Dame coach.

Cincinnati won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving the ball to graduate transfer quarterback Jack Coan and the Notre Dame offense.

Coan, who played the last four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, marched the Irish 69 yards down to the Cincinnati 6-yard line.

But UC graduate linebacker Darian Beavers put pressure on Coan and forced him to throw an interception into the hands of Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. It was the second pick of the season for the junior AP All-American cornerback.

The game remained scoreless entering the second quarter. That’s when Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly elected to bench Coan in favor of freshman Tyler Buchner, who quickly met Cincinnati edge rusher Myjai Sanders.

Sanders put pressure on Buchner, forcing the freshman to throw an interception to Deshawn Pace.

The UC offense capitalized on the takeaway, as Ridder found tight end Leonard Taylor on a1-yard score with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half.

After a 23-yard field goal by Cincinnati kicker Cole Smith, the Bearcats took a 17-0 lead on a 27-yard connection between Ridder and wide receiver Tre Tucker with 40 seconds left in the first half.

The score capped a five-play, 80-yard drive for the UC offense and a dominant first half by the Cincinnati “Blackcats” defense.

Beavers, Pace and Bryan Cook were all over the field for UC in the first half, as UC defensive coordinator’s group forced their 11th takeaway in the last 10 quarters.

But the Irish flipped the switch in the second half.

The Bearcats got the ball to begin the third but failed to add to their lead after Smith missed a 30-yard field goal attempt.

On UC’s next offensive possession, Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey sacked Ridder from his blind side, forcing the quarterback to fumble

Irish linebacker Drew White returned the loose ball 28 yards to the Cincinnati 38.

With freshman Drew Pyne now at quarterback for Notre Dame, the Irish finally got on the board on a 3-yard score by AP All-American all-purpose back Kyren Williams at the 1:19 mark in the third.

After another missed field goal by Smith, this time from 37 yards out with 11:28 to play, Pyne led Notre Dame on an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 32-yard score from Pyne to receiver Braden Lenzy. Irish kicker Jonathan Doerer missed the extra point and UC led 17-13 with 8:20 remaining.

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