Finale’s are difficult to nail. For every Breaking Bad, there are a dozen Losts. The Cincinnati Bearcats were definitely more Vince Gilligan than Damon Lindelof this year, as they pounded East Carolina 56-6 in their regular season finale and the last game for many seniors at Nippert Stadium.
To get a show like Breaking Bad over the finish line with such perfect execution, Gilligan needed stars like Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. For the Bearcats to perform their flawless regular season finale, they needed their own stars.
Honorable Mention: A 50-point win doesn’t just have three stars, so let’s give some credit to a few other folks as well. Tavion Thomas and Charles McClelland both filled in for an injured Michael Warren. The Bearcats didn’t miss a beat without their top rusher, as Thomas and McClelland combined for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. Another freshman also played well, as Arquon Bush helped force three turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown. The only reason he’s not one of the main stars is because both of his interceptions came after halftime when the game was essentially over.
One Star - Marquise Copeland, DT
Copeland has been playing in Cortez Broughton’s shadow this season. That’s not to say he’s been bad, but with Broughton putting forth a legendary campaign, Copeland has had to settle for second or even third billing. That was not the case on Friday. Copeland had two sacks in the first quarter alone, with both coming on third down, ending ECU drives and forcing punts. Considering the defense allowed only 303 total yards, including a measly 83 on the ground, someone from the defense had to be on here.
Two Stars - Desmond Ridder, QB
Playing quarterback shouldn’t be easy, but Ridder made it look that way against the Pirates. The redshirt freshman recovered from a difficult showing against UCF and made a mockery of the ECU secondary. Despite playing just a single series in the second half, Ridder racked up 335 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-29 passing. There is still a bowl game to be played, but after one regular season, Ridder has thrown for 2,359 yards, 19 touchdowns and only five interceptions on 62.5 percent passing.
Three Stars - Kahlil Lewis, WR
One way or another, it was destined for the three stars for this game to go to a senior. Lewis has had a number of big games in his career and he finished out his Nippert playing days with another one, turning nine catches into a career-high 203 yards and three touchdowns. This was the second three-touchdown game of Lewis’ career and his fourth with at least two scores. He also produced his second 100-yard performance of the season, marking the first time he has reached the total in more than one game in a year. That’s how to go out in style.
Who was the MVP of Cincinnati’s win against East Carolina?
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