Nov. 9, 2013
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team held off a fourth-quarter rally by SMU on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Nippert Stadium, taking a 28-25 victory over the Mustangs to win its fourth straight game.
Cincinnati (7-2, 4-1 American) used a surgical passing attack to accumulate 299 yards in the air, contributing to 462 yards of total offense. Quarterback Brendon Kay (Marine City, Mich./Marine City) was 27-32, throwing for two touchdowns.
Six different Bearcats caught passes, with Anthony McClung (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) leading the way with eight for 97 yards. Shaq Washington (Maple Hts., Ohio/Maple Hts.) also had eight for 51 yards, while Chris Moore (Tampa, Fla./Thomas Jefferson) had five grabs for 37 yards and a score. Mekale McKay (Louisville, Ky./Moore/Arkansas) had the other receiving score for UC.
The ground game had several different contributors, as Hosey Williams (Miami, Fla./Southridge/ASA College) was the leading rusher with 90 yards, while Tion Green (Sanford, Fla./Lake Brantley) and Jordan Luallen (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove/Georgia tech) each had rushing touchdowns.
SMU (3-5, 2-2 American) saw a two-game winning streak snapped. Mustang quarterback Garrett Gilbert was just as efficient as Kay, going 38-47 for 403 yards and two touchdowns. Darius Joseph (12 catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns), Jeremy Johnson (11 catches, 102 yards) and Keenan Holman (seven catches, 142 yards) all went over 100 receiving yards on the day.
UC Head Coach Tommy Tuberville's rush defense was stout, holding SMU to just 48 yards. Both Adrian Witty (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) and Greg Blair (Pittsburgh, Pa./Schenley/Lackawanna CC) recorded double-digit tackles with 11 and 10, respectively. The Bearcats also sacked Gilbert twice on the day.
The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and Gilbert took them right down the field for a 7-0 lead. The QB led a 13-play, 75-yard drive over nearly six minutes during which he completed all seven passes for 61 yards while rushing twice for 13 yards and a three-yard touchdown scamper.
The first UC offensive possession saw the Bearcats drive to the SMU 40-yard line before turning it over on downs. The Bearcats went for it on fourth-and-one, but Jonathan Yenga got to Kay before he could unload the pass and sacked the UC QB.
The Bearcats defense responded, halting the next SMU possession at the UC 31-yard line where the Mustangs missed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide to the right. UC then drove to the SMU 39 before consecutive plays saw Kay get sacked, UC draw a delay of game penalty and Kay throw an interception to SMU's Ajee Montes. The Mustangs took over as the first quarter ended with SMU holding a 7-0 lead.
The Mustangs drove inside the UC 10-yard line where the Bearcats defense came up big and held SMU to a field goal. The 24-yard kick by Chase Hover gave the visitors a 10-0 lead with 13:37 to play in the half.
Cincinnati finally got on the board with 10:45 to play in the second quarter when Kay hit Moore for a 17-yard score. It capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive that took less than three minutes. The big play came when Kay was looking for Moore down the sideline and the receiver drew pass interference to set up the score, which cut SMU's lead to 10-7.
After UC forced a Mustang three-and-out and SMU's punt only went 22 yards, the Bearcats took their first lead from the contest when Kay immediately hit McKay for a 62-yard touchdown. It was the longest completion of the year for Kay and put Cincinnati up, 14-10, with 9:01 to play in the first half.
The teams then traded punts before SMU drove down to the UC 11 and clanked a 34-yard field goal attempt off the right upright, sending the teams to the locker room with the Bearcats up 14-10. Both teams were more than willing to throw the ball in the first half, with the quarterbacks combining to complete 35 passes on 41 attempts.
Cincinnati came out and extended the lead on the first drive of the third quarter. Kay took the Bearcats on an 11-play drive that took just under four minutes and was capped by a 2-yard plunge by Luallen. Kay was completed all seven pass attempts on the drive, which extended the UC lead to 21-10 with just over 11 minutes left in the quarter.
Tuberville then wanted to keep the momentum and called an onside kick, which the Bearcats recovered to start their next drive on the SMU 43. Unfortunately, Kay was then intercepted by Kenneth Acker, negating the onside recovery.
With UC already having big plays from the offense and special teams in the second half, the defense responded by forcing SMU to punt. That led to the longest drive of the season by the Bearcats.
Kay and Luallen took turns under center and directed a 17-play, 96-yard drive over 8:12 that pushed the UC lead to 28-10 with a minute and change left in the third quarter. Williams started the drive with four straight rushes that pushed UC out to its own 24. Luallen then came in and rushed on a keeper for six yards before Kay returned to direct the Bearcats into the red zone. Luallen returned and helped the Bearcats get within seven yards of the endzone before Green took a handoff from Kay and went seven yards up the middle for the score.
SMU would not go away, answering with a quick strike to cut the Mustang deficit to 28-17 early in the fourth quarter. Gilbert constructed a six-play, 92-yard drive that took just 70 seconds and was capped with a five-yard pass to Darius Joseph with 14:48 to play in the game.
The Mustangs then forced a UC turnover to keep things interesting. The Bearcats took it down to the SMU 23-yard line before Green fumbled after an 11-yard run and the Mustangs fell on it. The recovery gave SMU the ball on its own 10-yard line, trailing by 11 points with 8:29 to play.
SMU took advantage and used a five-minute drive to pull with in a score. The 90-yard scoring drive was capped by a four-yard pass to Joseph. The Mustangs attempted a two-point conversion to pull within a field goal, with Gilbert scrambling up the middle to make it 28-25 with 3:27 to play.
With the clock on the side of the Bearcats, SMU Head Coach June Jones called for an onside kick. McClung recovered the kick and then took a hit from SMU's Jordan Miller that was flagged for a personal foul, giving UC the ball on the Mustang 30. The Bearcats were able to run out the clock to preserve the 28-25 victory.
Next up for the Bearcats is a trip to Rutgers on Saturday, Nov. 16. The Noon ET contest will air on ESPNews. Following the trek to New Jersey, UC has travels to Houston on Saturday, Nov. 23 before a home date with Louisville on Thursday, Dec. 5. To purchase tickets for the 7:30 p.m. finale against the Cardinals, call 1-877-CATS-TIX or visit GoBEARCATS.com/tickets.