Cincinnati Bearcats cruise to 63-10 win over Kennesaw State in home opener

Cincinnati Bearcats defensive lineman Eric Phillips (97) hops over Kennesaw State Owls...
Cincinnati Bearcats defensive lineman Eric Phillips (97) hops over Kennesaw State Owls quarterback Xavier Shepherd (8) after pressuring the throw in the first quarter of the NCAA football game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Kennesaw State Owls at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. Sam Greene/The Enquirer(Sam Greene/The Enquirer)
Published: Sep. 10, 2022 at 8:11 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CINCINNATI (ENQUIRER) - Senior quarterback Ben Bryant completed 17 of 20 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns and the University of Cincinnati football team cruised to a 63-10 win over FCS foe Kennesaw State Saturday at Nippert Stadium.

This story was written by our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Bearcats’ offense racked up 524 yards, while the defense scored two touchdowns and held the Owls to just 253 total yards in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

Cincinnati (1-1) extended its home winning streak to 28 games in front of a sold-out crowd of 39,014 fans, the sixth-largest crowd in Nippert history. The Bearcats haven’t lost inside their home stadium since Nov. 10, 2017 (35-24 to Temple).

Rebounding from last week’s season-opening loss at Arkansas, Cincinnati jumped on the board first after Deshawn Pace blocked a 49-yard Kennesaw State field-goal attempt in the first quarter. Fellow Colerain High School product Eric Phillips recovered the loose ball, and Bryant and the Bearcats offense took over at the Kennesaw State 41-yard line.

Bryant led a five-play scoring drive after the blocked kick and capped it with a 17-yard scoring strike to Josh Whyle with 5:45 in the opening frame. The senior tight end now has a touchdown in each of the Bearcats’ last three home-openers.

The Bearcats extended their lead to 14-0 when Bryant found his other tight end, Leonard Taylor, on a crossing route for a 9-yard score at the beginning of the second quarter.

Bryant tossed his third touchdown of the half to wide receiver Tyler Scott. That score came with 10 minutes to play before halftime.

After making several mistakes in Week 1, the Bearcats continued their miscues against the Owls. Cincinnati committed six penalties for 70 yards before intermission. Kennesaw State’s only points of the first half – a 30-yard field goal – came off a fumble by running back Myles Montgomery.

The Bearcats’ defense joined the scoring party at the start of the second half. Miami University transfer Ivan Pace Jr. forced Kennesaw State (0-2) running back Jonathan Murphy to fumble, defensive lineman Jabari Taylor collected the loose ball and raced 23 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-3. It was the first fumble return score for the Bearcats since 2018 (Kimoni Fitz).

After Charles McClelland made it a 35-3 game on 5-yard touchdown run, Ja’Von Hicks posted another defensive score, returning an interception 45 yards to end zone with 4:34 left in the third. It was the graduate safety’s first career touchdown for the Bearcats.

Evan Prater took over for Bryant at quarterback just before the start of the fourth. While Prater (Wyoming High School) holds the 2019 Ohio Mr. Football crown, Corey Kiner (Roger Bacon High School) is the 2020 title-holder. Prater led a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive that ended with Kiner crossing the goal line on a 12-yard run. Kiner’s second touchdown in as many weeks gave the Bearcats a 49-3 lead with 14:11 to play.

After a Kennesaw State touchdown, Prater ran 44 yards for his first score of the season to make it 56-10. Montgomery capped Cincinnati’s day with a late 74-yard touchdown run.

This story was written by our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.