Coming off a tough home loss to Temple in Week 2, the Bearcats were looking to get back on track against the Miami (OH) RedHawks. Both teams entered the game 1-1, but the gap between the two teams felt much wider with Cincinnati entering the season as an AAC favorite and the RedHawks in a long-term rebuilding project. How long-term? Cincinnati entered the game with nine straight wins over the RedHawks in the "Battle For The Bell", dating back to 2005.
Well... make that 10 straight.
Cincinnati began with the ball and drove down the field with relative ease. Shaq Washington suffered an apparent head injury when he was hit in the head on a crossing route. Washington got up, stumbled and fell, clearly dazed. He went into the locker room. It's worth noting that the hit was perfectly legal. It's also worth noting that he did come back into the game.
Down 7-0, the RedHawks responded with a 9-play drive and a 21-yard touchdown throw from Drew Kummer to Sam Shisso. Miami played with emotion early, forcing two straight three and outs, but couldn't capitalize themselves.
Cincinnati eventually settled back into a run-first approach and quickly scored, taking a 14-7 lead. The RedHawks responded with another methodical drive, this one 12-plays behind 53 yards on the ground. They had to settle for a field goal.
Cincinnati's and Miami' offenses traded possessions with little success. The RedHawks broke the lull first with a six-play drive for 94-yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Billy Bahl to Ryan Smith, putting the RedHawks up 17-14.
Gunner Kiel and company responded with an 11-play drive themselves, but stalled just outside the red zone after facing 1st and 20, courtesy of a holding call. Andrew Gantz hit a 42-yard field goal.
Miami didn't wait around to respond, scoring on the first play of their next possession with a 75-yard pass to Sam Martin. They missed the extra point but took a 23-17 lead with four minutes until half.
Cincinnati methodically drove down the field with Kiel finding Chris Moore for a 14-yard touchdown pass just before half.
After a quick Miami three and out to start the second half, the Bearcats got the ball. Kiel was hit late on a 18-yard pass and was in pain on the field for a minute or two before heading to the locker room. The drive ended with a Gantz field goal and Hayden Moore at quarterback.
Down 27-23, Miami responded with a 2-yard touchdown pass and a drive that only took 2:02 off the clock.
With Moore at quarterback, and down 30-27, the Bearcats leaned back on the run. Led by Hosey Williams, Tion Green and Hayden Moore using his legs, the Bearcats tied the game up at 30 apiece with a 24-yard field goal from Gantz.
After a Miami three and out, Cincinnati began the 4th quarter with the ball, but the RedHawks' Brad Earnest intercepted Moore.
Zach Edwards returned the favor five plays later with an interception of Kummer. Even though Cincinnati tried to fall back on the run game, the turnover bug bit again with a Moore fumble that was recovered by the RedHawks.
Both teams exchanged three and outs. On the RedHawks next possession, Adrian Witty went up for an interception, but the Miami receiver did a good job forcing the drop. Witty suffered an apparent injury on the play and the cart was brought out. He was unable to put any weight on his legs as he was lifted onto the cart and taken off the field.
After the ensuing punt, Moore fumbled yet again for the Bearcats. The Bearcats' defense held tough, despite Miami setting up their drive with a 1st and Goal from the Cincinnati 7, and held the RedHawks to a field goal. With seven minutes remaining, Miami held a 33-30 lead.
Only plays later, Hayden Moore hit Chris Moore for a 27-yard gain, but this time Chris Moore fumbled. Williams was there to recover for the Bearcats. Four plays later, Hayden Moore was picked off again.
With just over four minutes left in the game, the RedHawks went three and out and were forced to punt. Down 33-30, Moore made some key throws to Nate Cole down the middle of the field, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run for Williams with 1:13 left in regulation.
Miami's last gasp wasn't enough and Cincinnati escaped with a 37-33 win over the RedHawks, extending their win streak in the "Battle for the Bell" to ten games.
Cincinnati will face a stiff test next Thursday as they travel to Memphis, Tenn. to take on a Memphis team that beat the Bearcats 41-14 last season. The game will be at 7:30 PM ET on ESPN.