Cincinnati Bearcats beat Temple Owls, keep AAC title hopes alive
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (ENQUIRER) - All Ben Bryant could do was watch from the sideline while resting on a pair of crutches with his right foot in a boot.
After the University of Cincinnati senior quarterback suffered a foot injury in the first half, backup Evan Prater came in and finished off a 23-3 win over Temple Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Prater completed 12 of 17 passes for 127 yards and rushed for another 24 yards, but the Bearcats defense stole the show. The unit allowed just 202 yards on the day, including 35 yards on the ground.
Cincinnati (9-2, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) will host No. 21 Tulane (9-2, 6-1) at noon on Friday. The two-time defending AAC champion Bearcats will clinch a spot in their fourth straight AAC championship game with a win. If Cincinnati beats the Green Wave, the AAC title game will be at Nippert Stadium for the third straight year.
Temple found themselves in a second-and-24 hole early after a botched snap on the first play of the day. Following a punt by the Owls on their opening drive, the Cincinnati offense stalled at the goal line on its first possession. The Bearcats went 49 yards on 12 plays but failed to cross the goal line after running eight plays inside the Temple 15-yard line. Running backs Corey Kiner and Ryan Montgomery were both stuffed at the 1.
Junior kicker Ryan Coe pushed Cincinnati ahead 17-0 with a 28-yard field goal with 9:55 to play before halftime.
Temple answered with a field goal of its own – a 43-yarder – at the 8:24 mark.
Bryant was sacked on third-and-10 on the next drive and limped off the field and into the medical tent. After senior safety Jacob Dingle, who started for sophomore Bryan Threats (ejected for targeting in the second half of last week’s win over East Carolina) intercepted a pass deep in Bearcats territory, Prater (Wyoming High School) took over for Bryant with 5:59 remaining in the first half.
Prater, in his two first-half series, completed both of his passes for 31 yards, ran for an 8-yard gain but was sacked twice and failed to extend the Bearcats’ 17-3 lead.
After an evaluation by Cincinnati’s medical staff, Bryant was ruled out for the second half.
The Bearcats got the ball first in the second half, and started slowly with Prater leading the charge. Cincinnati managed just 20 yards on Prater’s first drive after intermission. Prater didn’t do much better on his next drive, but the Bearcats were able to scrape together enough yardage to secure a 37-yard field goal by Coe and push their lead to 20-3 at the 7:22 mark in the third.
Threats, who started the second half, intercepted Temple quarterback E.J. Warner in the end zone with 5:09 left in the period to halt the Owls’ attempt at its first touchdown of the day.
Prater then led a 12-play, 74-yard drive that nearly ended with Prater tossing a score to Montgomery but an illegal-touching penalty nullified the play. The Bearcats settled for a 24-yard field goal by Coe to push ahead 23-3 with 14-40 to play.
Senior linebacker Ty Van Fossen then forced a fumble and junior defensive end Noah Potter recovered the loose ball to start the Cincinnati offense at its own 28-yard line with 8:00 remaining.
Graduate tight end Leonard Taylor did not play due to an undisclosed injury. Sophomore Payten Singletary started in his place (alongside senior tight end Josh Whyle). Freshman safety Armorion Smith and sophomore offensive lineman Mao Glynn II (Walnut Hills High School) both left the game in the first half with injuries and did not return.
This story was written by our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.
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