Following Cincinnati's meltdown in Provo, Utah to BYU a week ago, Cincinnati looked to get back on track against the 3-4 UConn Huskies who looked much improved from last year's two-win season. While a slow start and an early score by the Huskies was a little concerning, the Bearcats got back on track, showing off their high-powered offense and a solid defensive showing.
Gunner Kiel got the start over Hayden Moore this week and had a wonderful showing when all was said and done. The beginning of the game was a little unnerving for Bearcat's fans though, as the offense had a quick three-and-out, giving the ball to Bryant Shirreffs and the UConn offense. UConn got started fast with a nine-play, 58-yard touchdown drive on their first offensive possession, capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run by Arkeel Newsome. Cincinnati responded behind Kiel's arm as they drove 81 yards down the field for a touchdown. Kiel hit Johnny Holton on a 29-yard touchdown pass to tie the game early at 7.
The Cincinnati defense then did their part, showing the physicality and aggressiveness that we had seen in flashes over the past couple weeks. UConn went three-and-out on their next possession, setting up the Bearcats for another quick touchdown, only taking 1:11 off the clock before Kiel hit tight end D.J. Dowdy for a 26-yard touchdown pass and Kiel's second touchdown pass in the first three offensive possessions.
UConn's next possession looked promising, but was derailed by a fumble that *gasp* Cincinnati forced. Zach Edwards forced a rare turnover for the Bearcats and Eric Wilson jumped on the ball. The Bearcats offense couldn't capitalize and the Bearcats were forced to punt. A bad snap on fourth down though, set the Huskies up at the Cincinnati 10 yard line, but the Bearcats defense, again, held strong, forcing a field goal.
Kiel and company wasted little time responding, driving down the field on their next possession for another touchdown. A 1-yard touchdown run by Kiel pushed the Cincinnati lead to 21-10 in the second quarter. The Cincinnati defense held strong until half with Andrew Gantz adding a field goal for the Bearcats. Cincinnati entered the break leading, 24-10.
The offenses cooled off in the second half with mistakes again rearing their ugly head for the Bearcats early. After another stop on defense, the Bearcats offense turned the ball over on a Kiel fumble, caused by UConn's Luke Carrezola on the sack. The next play, Shirreffs was intercepted on a beautiful play by Cincinnati's Tyrell Gilbert. Gilbert tracked back and made an outstanding play on the ball.
The Bearcats' offense took the ball back and drove 72 yards down the field to set up another Gantz field goal, this one from 38 yards out. After another UConn three-and-out, the UC offense used 6:30 off the clock on a 16-play drive, but Gantz missed the 27-yard field goal in the rain. Still, the Bearcats entered the final quarter leading, 27-10.
UConn tried to make a game out of it in the final stanza, but couldn't pull close against the Cincinnati defense. UConn's Bobby Puyol would hit a 30-yard field goal, but Cincinnati closed out the scoring with a 26-yard field goal from Gantz and a 1-yard touchdown run for Hosey Williams, pushing the final score to 37-13.
Cincinnati's offense was incredibly balanced, with 327 yards through the air and 285 on the ground, and the defense made plays that have been all too rare over the first six games of the season.
The Bearcats will take the field at Nippert Stadium next week (10/31) against UCF, with kickoff at 12 PM ET.