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Offense Sputters Again in 24-3 Loss

The Cincinnati Bearcats struggled to move the ball in taking a 24-3 road loss against UCF.

Cincinnati v Central Florida Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Thank goodness basketball is back. Otherwise watching the Cincinnati Bearcats football team would be that much more painful. In another offensive no-show, the Bearcats lost 24-3 to the UCF Knights in an American Athletic Conference clash at Bright House Networks Stadium. They have now lost three-straight and five of their last six to fall to 4-6 overall and 1-5 against the league.

During the three-game losing streak, UC’s offense has been absolutely anemic, failing to sustain drives, scores points or do anything other than punch the clock. Against UCF, the Bearcats finished with only 327 yards of total offense, converted on just 5-of-19 third down tries and recorded six three and outs.

The very worst stat, however, is that since Devin Gray caught a four-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter against Temple, UC has failed to get into the end zone. That is 10-straight quarters without a touchdown.

The offense was obviously hurt by the fact that Mike Boone was out, and it appears he will be gone for the rest of the season.

To combat the stagnant play of the offense, UC rolled out all three of its quarterbacks against UCF, with Hayden Moore starting, Ross Trail being used on a few zone-read run plays and Gunner Kiel coming in in the fourth quarter to mop up the mess. None of the three played particularly well. Moore completed 13-of-25 pass attempts for 129 yards and a bad interception, which set up UCF for a touchdown. Trail didn’t throw a pass and rushed for only seven yards. Kiel registered 91 yards on 6-of-17 passing and did get the Bearcats into the red zone in the fourth quarter, but he threw four incomplete passes from the five-yard line as UC once again got within sniffing distance of the end zone, but was shut out.

On their only other red zone trip, the Bearcats got to the UCF 11-yard line, but three-straight negative plays, including a seven-yard sack of Moore, one of five sacks from the UCF defense, forced UC to settle for a 38-yard field goal. Those three points were all they managed.

If you’re looking for some bright spots, Tion Green and Kahlil Lewis played reasonably well. Green rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries, but without Boone the Bearcats didn’t enjoy much success on the ground. Lewis led the team with six receptions for 84 yards. Tshumbi Johnson showed some big-play ability, with a 52-yard reception late in the fourth quarter.

To its credit, the UC defense played well enough, letting up only 305 yards of total offense, while the Knights only scored 17 offensive points. The other seven came when a Sam Geraci punt was blocked and returned 23 yards for a UCF touchdown midway through the third quarter.

While its a pipe dream to think UC will be making it to a bowl this season, in order for it to do so, it will have to win out. That will be a tall task as its next two games are against Memphis and at Tulsa.