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Cincinnati Bearcats football holds serve at 9-0 with Homecoming win over Tulsa

The Cincinnati Bearcats football team faced off against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes at Nippert...
The Cincinnati Bearcats football team faced off against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes at Nippert Stadium on Nov. 6, 2021.(Cincinnati Enquirer)
Published: Nov. 6, 2021 at 7:36 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Cincinnati Enquirer) - On a day the college football world got a televised picture postcard from Cincinnati, the Bearcats got out to a 14-0 start against Tulsa, sputtered in the second quarter, pulled away, then sputtered again.

It would come down to a pair of late possessions by Tulsa, both stopped. After fumbling away what looked like their final possession, the Bearcats defense stopped the Golden Hurricane four straight times. Steven Anderson’s last rush was fumbled in the endzone and recovered by senior Jabari Taylor to secure UC’s 28-20 Homecoming triumph over Tulsa.

Desmond Ridder and the Bearcats are now 9-0. Ridder was 15-for-23 passing for 274 yards and two touchdowns. He also was the leading rusher with 43 yards and a score, mainly since Jerome Ford left the game injured late in the first half.

Senior Alec Pierce had five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Tulsa outgained the Bearcats 446-390 overall and outrushed them by 181 yards, but still dropped to 3-6 (2-3 AAC).

Ridder, whose rushing yard pace is behind the last three seasons when he’s averaged over 600, gained 14 on UC’s initial drive, including his 3-yard trot for the game’s first score.

UC’s Ford came into the game tied for third in the nation in touchdowns. On the end of a 13-play drive, Ford punched in for his 16th touchdown, 15 coming by the rush.

A potential third scoring drive of the half was stifled when freshman kicker Christian Lowery missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. Senior Cole Smith, the kicker for the first six victories, remains out for undisclosed reasons.

Making the quarter worse was a 12-play, 75-yard drive that followed with Shamari Brooks of Tulsa scoring. The extra point failed, but it was 14-9. Kicker Zack Long atoned for the miss just before the half with a 50-yard field goal. For a second straight week, UC’s halftime lead was 14-12 after a lethargic second quarter.

Four plays into the second half, Ridder had his first touchdown pass. A 12-yard connection with Alec Pierce ended a 72-yard drive to put UC up 21-12.

A fourth-down stoppage on the Golden Hurricane’s following series turned the momentum more. Three plays later, Ridder had his second scoring pass of the day, this one a 31-yarder to Michael Young who toasted his defender.

Tulsa was then driving to score with 4:50 in the third when Ty Van Fossen hit Ezra Naylor II jarring the ball loose. Ja’Von Hicks scooped it for the Bearcats to snuff out the drive. The Bearcats couldn’t capitalize on the drive as Tulsa recovered a Josh Whyle fumble on their own 43.

Making it a tight game yet again, Davis Brin spotted JuanCarlos Santana for a 21-yard score with 8:10 left in the contest. The two-point conversion pulled Tulsa within eight. Another failed offensive series gave the Golden Hurricane the ball back at 5:28.

Tulsa had little issue zipping through a defense back on its heels. Ja’Von Hicks made a stop on third down from the 6-yard line which was initially ruled targeting. It was overruled and UC made a fourth-down stop to acquire the ball with 1:14 left.

A major catastrophe then occurred as Tulsa’s Travon Fuller snared UC’s fumbled rush at the 3-yard line. Tulsa had four shots to score. On their fourth, Anderson’s rush was fumbled into the endzone and recovered by Taylor to secure the victory.

Stop the run?

For a third consecutive game, UC was outrushed. Navy did it 197-95 two weeks ago, Tulane did it 187-124 last week and the Golden Hurricane ground game outnetted the Bearcats 279-116.

Dust biters

As for the unbeaten, you can cross Wake Forest off the list. Mack Brown’s North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the No. 9 Demon Deacons 58-55.

Prospects are good

Numerous football recruits graced the sidelines prior to the game taking selfies with their parents. A notable basketball recruit paid campus a second visit also as Taft junior Rayvon Griffith attended the game. Ohio Division III first team as a sophomore, Griffith recently received an Ohio State offer in addition to his other suitors. Griffith led Taft to the state semifinals last winter. Sophomore Tyler McKinley of Walnut Hills basketball was also in The Nipp.

Extra horns

Over 270 Bearcat band alumni joined the troops for the halftime show. Alumni ranged from the Class of 1958 to recent 2021 grads. They formed the number 100 on the field to celebrate the band’s centennial year.

CINCINNATI  14   0   14   0  28

TULSA            0  12     0   8  20

UC - Ridder 3-yard run (Lowery kick)

UC - Ford 1-yard run (Lowery kick)

T - Long 35-yard FG

T - Brooks 5-yard run (extra point failed)

T - Long 50-yard FG

UC - Ridder 12-yard pass to Pierce (Lowery kick)

UC - Ridder 31-yard pass to Young (Lowery kick)

T - Brin 21-yard pass to Santana (Brit to Crawford Jr. pass)

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