In dramatic fashion on Saturday, the Bearcats escaped Nippert Stadium (and this season) with their fourth win against the University of Connecticut, defeating the Huskies by a 1-point-margin — 22-21. Both teams entered the game 3-8, looking to exit the season with some form of momentum into the offseason.
Cincinnati could not have provided a better setting for a football game in late November. During the game, the temperature hovered around the mid-50s, as the sun beamed on the 23,125 fans in attendance.
Statistically, the Huskies dominated the Bearcats. UConn gained 10 more first downs, out-rushed, and out-passed UC. Time of possession also skewed heavily in favor of UConn, who possessed the ball nearly twice as much as the Bearcats (39:40 to 20:20). But games aren’t won or lost in boxes on a page; they’re won on the field.
Offensively, the Bearcats were powered by senior RB Mike Boone who gained 83 yards on 14 carries (and 100 all-purpose yards). Junior WR Kahlil Lewis caught 6 passes for 64 yards, and two touchdown receptions. Sophomore WR Thomas Geddis also had 6 catches for 65 yards. Junior QB Hayden Moore finished the game passing for 199 yards and two scores. Moore’s one blemish appeared in the form of an interception he threw in the end zone as the Bearcats were about to score.
Defensively, the Bearcats were anchored by senior LB Jaylyin Minor, who finished with 15 tackles, and senior DB Carter Jacobs, who had 12 solo tackles and one interception. Notably, true freshman Jarell White (LaSalle) had 11 tackles and one QB hurry.
The game went down to the wire, with UConn driving late. After a pass interference penalty put the Huskies on UC’s two yard line, UConn’s QB David Pindell evaded the Bearcats’ rush, scrambled outside his right tackle and threw for a touchdown with no time left on the clock. UConn trailed by only a point.
Nippert brimmed with anxiety.
While UConn’s Head Coach Randy Edsall signaled his desire to go for two points, the Huskies were flagged for taunting after the touchdown. Edsall relented and elected to just kick the lengthier extra point.
Before the extra point kick to send the game into overtime, the Huskies’ PK Michael Tarbutt had nailed 3/4 field goals from 26, 37, and 53 yards. His only miss leading up to the lengthy extra point was a 49 yard attempt in the second quarter. With the game on the line, though, Tarbutt shanked the ball off his golden cleat with no time left on the clock.
The Bearcats escaped Nippert’s hallowed turf with their fourth win of the season. For the seniors, the victory was undoubtedly gratifying. For first year head coach Luke Fickell, the win was probably a relief as he’ll need momentum from that win to carry into offseason conditioning and preparation.
The Bearcats open up next season on the road against UCLA in Pasadena, California on September 1st. UCLA just hired Chip Kelly, adding even more intrigue to that West Coast trip.
By Brian Fox
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