Boy, that was not a fun one, huh?
In its season opener, the Cincinnati Bearcats faced Tennessee-Martin, a FCS foe, but for the first 30 minutes, it was UC that looked like the team from the lower level.
A seven-yard touchdown pass from UTM quarterback Gunnar Holcombe to Caylon Weathers midway through the first quarter was the first score of the game and allowed the Skyhawks to take a 7-0 lead, which held nearly all the way to halftime.
Prevalent turnovers from the Bearcats gave UTM a chance to extend that lead, but a pair of missed field goals in the second quarter kept the deficit manageable. Then, with 19 seconds left before halftime, Hayden Moore completed a three-yard touchdown pass to Nate Cole. Although the extra point attempt failed, it halted the panic a bit. I quiver at the thought of UC failing to score a single point in the first half.
UC finally began to assert itself later in the third quarter, with Kahlil Lewis hauling in a three-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 75-yard drive with 2:42 left in the frame.
Mike Boone then found his way into the end zone from a yard out late in the fourth quarter and safety Tyrell Gilbert put the final nail in the coffin with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown, closing out the 28-7 win for the Bearcats.
Moore finished the game with 260 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-34 passing, although he was intercepted twice. Tion Green was the leading rusher in the contest (97 yards on 16 carries) while Boone struggled his way to 35 yards on 12 carries. Nate Cole hauled in six passes for 64 yards, but it was Devin Gray that led the way through the air with 111 yards on five receptions.
On defense, linebacker Eric Wilson was all over the place, recording 15 tackles, including two sacks. Safety Zach Edwards had 12 tackles and Gilbert and Linden Stephens each recorded an interception.
Cincinnati now has a little more than a week to prepare for its next game when it will face off against the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana. Hopefully the Bearcats play like they did in the second half in that one.