Bearcats Fall at Tennessee, 45-23
Isaiah Pead breaks off a big run. (AP Photo)

Sept. 10, 2011

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Cincinnati football team fell to University of Tennessee 45-23 Saturday before a Neyland Stadium crowd of 94,207.

After Cincinnati tied the score 14-14 midway through the first quarter, Tennessee produced 21 straight points to build a lead the Bearcats were unable to overcome.

UC had difficulty stopping Tennessee sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray, who passed for a career-high 405 yards and four touchdowns.

Cincinnati halfback Isaiah Pead (Columbus, Ohio/Eastmoor Academy) rushed for 155 yards on 14 carries to lead the Bearcats attack. Senior quarterback Zach Collaros (Steubenville, Ohio/Steubenville) went 21-34 for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Senior receiver D.J. Woods (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville) had a team-high nine receptions for 111 yards. Junior receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (Miami, Fla./Northwestern/El Camino CC), a one-time Volunteer, recorded career highs in catches (four) and receiving yards (58).

On the opening possession of the game, the Bearcats needed just three plays to score after Pead took his first carry down the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown.

Tennessee responded with a seven-play scoring drive on their first possession, punctuated by a two-yard TD run by tailback Marlin Lane that tied the score 7-7 with 9:53 remaining in the first quarter.

Volunteers place kicker Michael Palardy recovered his own on-side kick on the ensuing kickoff to give Tennessee possession. Four plays later, Bray threw a 33-yard streak down the left sideline to sophomore receiver Justin Hunter for a touchdown.

Trailing 14-7, Cincinnati went on a five-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Collaros touchdown pass to tight end Adrien Robinson (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central), tying the score 14-14 with 6:38 left in the first quarter.

Cincinnati made the first defensive stop of the game after senior defensive back Dominique Battle (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) forced Lane to fumble, which was recovered by UC linebacker Ben Pooler (Morristown, N.J./Lawrenceville/Maryland) at the Bearcats 28-yard line. Cincinnati could not capitalize on the turnover and punted for the first time for either team on its third possession.

Through the first quarter both teams combined for 342 yards, including Pead's 104 yards rushing on five attempts, his sixth career 100-yard performance.

On the opening possession of the second quarter, Bray found Da'Rick Rogers open in the end zone for an 11-yard TD pass to give Tennessee a 21-14 lead with 13:20 remaining in first half.

Cincinnati's offensive attack began to cool off after its hot start in the first quarter. In two of UC's first three possessions of the second quarter, the Bearcats were stopped on fourth-and-one.  

After its second fourth-and-one hold, UT overcame a personal foul chop-block that set up first-and-20 from its 47-yardline. The Volunteers drove down to the 15-yard line before Bray threw his third TD pass of the day to Rogers, making the score 28-14 with 1:15 remaining in the first half.

Facing a third-and-four in the final minute of the half, Pead broke off a 23-yard run to the Tennessee 43-yard line. Collaros scrambled for 14 yards to the 30-yard line on third-and-10 to set up a 47-yard field goal attempt. After a UT timeout, redshirt freshman kicker Tony Miliano's (North Bend, Ohio/Elder) kick was deflected by Hunter, setting up a 28-14 halftime score.

Through the first two quarters, the Bearcats produced 249 yards on offense (148 rushing, 101 passing).

Tennessee opened the second half with a 10-play, 70-yard drive capped by a one-yard TD run by Bray that increased UT's lead to 35-14 with 10:16 left in the third quarter.

On the ensuing UC possession, Collaros hooked up with Woods for 46 yards to the UT 27-yard line on third-and-eight. Two plays later, Collaros found Thompkins down the right sideline for 24 yards to the one-yard line.

However, for the third time in the game, Cincinnati struggled in a short-yardage situation. Collaros attempted a QB sneak on first down for no gain. On second down a high snap caused a loss of one on a broken rushing play. Third down featured a pass breakup intended for sophomore receiver Anthony McClung (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), forcing the Bearcats to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Miliano and making the score 35-17.

In UT's next offensive series, Bray fired his fourth TD pass of the game with 1:24 left in the third quarter, a 16-yard toss to Rogers that increased the Volunteers lead to 42-17.

The Cincinnati defense got its second turnover of the game when junior linebacker Walter Stewart (Ashville, Ohio/Teays Valley) forced a fumble on tailback Rajion Neal, which was recovered by senior defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (Lisbon, Ohio/Beaver Local) at the UT 22.

Four plays later, Cincinnati scored on a six-yard TD pass from Collaros to McClung and brought the score to 42-23 with 8:46 remaining in the game.

UT tacked on a 37-yard field goal by Palardy with 1:44 left in the fourth to make the final score 45-23.

Cincinnati will play University of Akron at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Nippert Stadium.