Bearcats Conclude Spring Practice with Scrimmage at Paul Brown Stadium|
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team closed out its spring practice season, holding its annual spring game Saturday in front of 5,400 fans at Paul Brown Stadium.
Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind./East) led the first-team offense for the opening half, completing 17 of 22 passes for an even 300 yards while rushing for a touchdown. He helped the first-team offense hold a 24-10 lead over the second-team defense at the half before giving way to Jarred Evans (Queens, N.Y./Santa Barbara CC).
Other highlights included Evans combining to complete 17 of 30 for 166 yards and a touchdown for both teams, while Hayden Moore (Clay, Ala./Clay-Chalkville) was 14 of 20 for 113 yards and a score.
Head Coach Tommy Tuberville said after the game that the quarterback battle will continue into the summer and fall camp with Evans and Kiel leading the charge. Tuberville also added that 2013 starter Munchie Legaux (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr) could become a factor later in the summer as he continues his rehabilitation from a devastating knee injury suffered against Illinois.
"I can sleep a little better now because last week we were just awful on offense,' Tuberville said. "We threw the ball well, protected, and we had a couple of offensive lineman out last week that really made a difference this week. We didn't do as much defensively, but we still made plays on offense. Gunner had a pretty good day. I thought Jarred Evans played good. Hayden Moore did a pretty good job."
EJ Junior IV (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) was the top rusher, going for 55 yards. Tion Green (Sanford, Fla./Lake Brantley) rushed for 30 yards and a score, while Hosey Williams (Miami, Fla./ASA College) and Chad Banschbach (Lawrenceburg, Ind./Lawrenceburg) each had a rushing touchdown.
Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Florida State) led the defensive side with 11 tackles. Mike Tyson (Norfolk, Va./Hargrave Military) and Kevin Hyland (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) each registered nine tackles. Mason Antoun (Cincinnati, Ohio/Reading) had 2.5 sacks on the afternoon, while Mark Wilson (Hampton, Va./Phoebus), Chris Burton (Danville, Va./George Washington) and Marcus Tappan (Pasadena, Calif./La Salle/Glendale) each had a sack. Tyson, Grant Coleman (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg), Clemente Casseus (Miami, Fla./Everglades) and Linden Stephens (Euclid, Ohio/Fork Union Military) each had an interception.
Tuberville let his first-team offense air it out to start the game. Kiel completed his first five passes of the day, highlighted by a 47-yard completion to Chris Moore (Tampa, Fla./Thomas Jefferson). The first rush of the game came on first-and-goal from the two and was followed by a dive across the goal line by Williams. It capped a 6-play, 75-yard drive in just over five minutes.
The first-team offense got the ball back when Evans fumbled a snap and Burton fell on the ball. With the first-team defense out to play against the first-team offense, Green kept the offensive team moving with a 32-yard rush down to the 27-yard line. A screen pass to Shaq Washington (Maple Heights, Ohio/Maple Heights) set the offense up first-and-goal from the three before the white team forced a 20-yard field goal by Andrew Gantz (Dayton, Ohio/Centerville) to spot the first-team offense to a 10-0 lead with 5:31 left in the first quarter.
With the second-team offense back on the field, Evans led his squad down to the one-yard line before Junior was stuffed, forcing the second-team to settle for a field goal, making the score, 10-3.
Kiel was then intercepted by Tyson to get the second-team offense back on the field. Starting at the first-team defense's 36-yard line, the first-team defense held strong, forcing a punt. John Lloyd (Cincinnati, Ohio/CHCA) got off a great kick, pinning the first-team offense at its own six-yard line. The first-team offense ran one play before the quarter ended with the first-team offense holding a 10-3 lead.
Kiel completed his second big pass of the game early in the second quarter, hitting Mekale McKay (Louisville, Ky./Arkansas) for a 46-yard completion. Another completion to Max Morrison (Kenton, Ohio/Kenton) took the first-team down to the three-yard line where Kiel took a keeper over the goal line. The score gave the first-team offense a 17-3 lead with 8:28 left in the first half.
Evans led the second-team offense on another drive, with Alex Chisum (Fayetteville, Ga./Sandy Creek) catching a deep pass to get the second-team offense down to the first-team defense's 28-yard line. A completion to Nate Cole (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) on third-and-four kept the drive moving, setting up a 13-yard pass to Ralph David Abernathy IV (Atlanta, Ga./Westminster School) for the score. That pulled the second-team offense back within a touchdown, 17-10, with 4:58 to play in the opening half
Kiel and the first-team offense responded with another drive, highlighted by a deep pass from Kiel to Washington for 23-yards to drive deep into the second-team defense's territory. Green then ground his way down to the three-before scoring on third down to push the first-team lead to 24-10 with just 70 seconds left in the first half.
The second-team offense was forced to punt for the second time, setting-up the first-team offense at their own 38-yard line with 45 seconds left. Kiel connected with McKay on the first play for 42-yards to get his team to the 20-yard line. Kiel was sacked by Mark Wilson with nine seconds left to set-up a 39-yard field goal attempt by Gantz which was pushed wide left. Halftime saw the first-team offense lead 24-10.
The first-team offense, now piloted by Evans, opened the second half, but Evans threw an interception to Casseus, who returned it down do the seven, setting-up the second-team offense and quarterback Hayden Moore with a short field. Moore took advantage, hitting Shai Alonzo (Duquesne, Pa./Woodland Hills) for a score to pull the second-team offense back within a touchdown, 24-17.
The ball was turned over again as Evans hit Junior for a completion before Junior fumbled at the 44-yard line, giving it back to the second-team offense at their own 32. Moore and the second-team offense responded, with Banschbach rushing around the outside for a 22-yard score, but Tony Miliano (North Bend, Ohio/Elder) pushed the PAT wide right, allowing the first-team offense to hold a 24-23 lead with 7:25 remaining in the third quarter.
The defensive sides started to play better, with the teams trading punts. The second-team offense eventually got a 49-yard field goal from Miliano with 9:09 left in the fourth quarter (which had a running clock), to provide the final score of 26-24.
The scrimmage gave both the Bearcats and their fans a look at Paul Brown Stadium, which will serve as the home for the UC football team in 2014 while Nippert Stadium continues to undergo renovations. Cincinnati opens the 2014 campaign on Friday, Sept. 12, when in-state foe Toledo visits for a 7 p.m. contest.
Season tickets for 2014 can be purchased by calling 1-877-CATS-TIX or visiting GoBEARCATS.com/tickets.