Bearcat Defense Makes Stand In Win At Miami

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The winless Miami RedHawks -  who had lost five straight games to Cincinnati by an average of 29 points - were about to take the lead in the third quarter.


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After committing two redzone turnovers in the first half, the Bearcats were only able to build a 6-0 lead, and when Miami quarterback Zac Dysert surprised UC with a long pass on the first play of the third quarter, it looked like Nick Harwell was on his way to the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown.


But Bearcat safety Drew Frey caught the speedy Harwell from behind and tackled him inside the one yard line.


"The only thing that goes through your mind in that situation is 'Get to him, get to him, get to him.'" said Frey.  "It was a desperation play, and luckily, I was able to get to him before he got in."


"We were busted in coverage and made a mistake and those things can be fatal, but Drew ran back and made a great play to stop the guy short," said defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs.  "That kid is fast and Drew didn't give up."


Still, Miami had it first-and-goal from inside the one.  The Bearcat defense has a rallying cry for that situation. 


"We always say, 'Give us a place to stand and we're going to make something happen.'" said linebacker JK Schaffer. 


"Defensive line coach Steve Stripling said that us once, and now we say it all the time," said defensive tackle Derek Wolfe.  "Give us a place to stand.  I don't care if you give us an inch; we're not going to let them in.  Our sideline was going nuts and that was just feeding us."


Two Miami running plays lost a yard.  Offensive pass interference on Harwell pushed the RedHawks back to the 17 yard line, and after an incomplete pass, Miami had to settle for a 34 yard field goal attempt.  When Mason Krysinski hooked it wide left, Miami came away empty.   


"I think that summarizes the character that we have on this football team," said head coach Butch Jones.  "All we need is an inch.  That was a big turning point and you could feel it on our sideline."


"Last year we don't stop 'em," said Coach Coombs.  "This year, those kids believed they were going to stop 'em and they rose up.  There's no question it was the turning point of the game."


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When Isaiah Pead scored a touchdown less than two minutes later to give the Bearcats a 13-0 lead, it felt like the game was over.  Cincinnati went on to win 27-0, marking the first time in the 123-year history of the rivalry that either school has won six straight times. 


"We were challenged," said Coach Jones.  "We knew that Miami was a good football team.  Their front seven on defense is as good anyone we've faced all year.  But there wasn't any panic and that's a great thing."


"That's the difference between this year and last year," said Schaffer.  "We're making improvements, we're playing good defense, and I couldn't be more proud of my teammates."


"We relish those opportunities now where our backs are against the wall and we've got to make plays," said Frey.  "I feel like it's just an attitude and I've think that we've got it this year.  That was a collective effort."


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The Bearcats have a bye next Saturday, but I hope you'll join Coach Jones, Jim Kelly, and me for the "Butch Jones Show" on Wednesday night from 8 to 9 at the Original Montgomery Inn. 


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