Nov. 17, 2012
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CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati football team dropped a hard-fought contest to No. 22/20 Rutgers University by a score of 10-3 Saturday afternoon at Nippert Stadium.
The game was a 60-minute defensive struggle for the Bearcats, as they were unable to put points on the scoreboard until 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Tony Miliano kicked a 36-yard field goal to make the score 10-3.
The Bearcats defense was not to be outdone by Rutgers, which entered the game fifth nationally in points allowed, as the Scarlet Knights scored zero points in three red-zone trips. The 10 points allowed by UC were the fewest in a loss since the Bearcats played Rutgers on Sept. 5, 1987.
UC senior middle linebacker Greg Blair led the way with a game-high 12 tackles, while senior defensive backs Cameron Cheatham and Dominique Battle each picked off Rutgers QB Gary Nova, who finished the day 11-19 passing for 186 yards and one touchdown.
In his second career start, Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay went 17 for 31 passing for 251 yards, while adding a team-best 72 rushing yards on 13 carries. Running back Ralph David Abernathy (84) and George Winn (65) led the Bearcats in all-purpose yardage, while senior tight end Travis Kelce caught a game-high five pass for 50 yards.
The Scarlet Knights took a 7-0 lead with 6:13 remaining in the second quarter when Nova connected with Mark Harrison for a 71-yard touchdown pass that capped a five-play, 97-yard drive.
Two timely interceptions by the UC defense kept the Bearcats to within one touchdown as they trailed 7-0 at halftime.
RU threatened to increase its lead to double digits late in the second quarter. With 4:54 left in the first half, the Scarlet Knights moved the football down to the red zone. On third-and-eight from the UC 18-yard line, Nova’s pass in the end zone was deflected by Devin Drane and caught by Battle for a touchback.
Rutgers controlled time of possession, 37:13 to 22:47, thanks in large part to its 6 of 14 third-down conversion rate, including 5 of 8 in the first half, and 234 rushing yard. Comparatively, UC rushed for 90 yards and converted just 3 of 11 third downs.
The Bearcats missed another scoring opportunity on their opening drive of the second half. Facing a fourth-and-one on the Rutgers 7-yard line, Winn was dropped for a one-yard loss.
A Kay interception set up a Rutgers drive the saw the Knights erase 6:11 off the play clock as they moved the ball down the to the UC 5-yard line. However, Rutgers kicker Nick Borgese’s attempted 22-yard field goal was blocked by Jordan Stepp, which kept the Bearcats within one possession.
Rutgers eventually took a two-possession lead, at 10-0, with 7:59 left in the fourth on a Borgese 42-yard field goal.
Cincinnati will play its final home game of season 7 p.m. Friday when it welcomes USF to Nippert Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.