Cincinnati Bearcats are 5-1 after a road victory against Houston this past Saturday. The game wasn’t pretty, but Cincinnati got the job done.
These 10 plays helped pave the way for the Bearcats’ win.
1. Alec Pierce sets the tone on second play
On the Bearcats first possession and the second play of the game, QB Desmond Ridder hit WR Alec Pierce with a 44 yard completion. There was no yards after the catch, just a beautifully thrown ball that Pierce went up and caught. It was one of two catches for Pierce, who came into 2019 with no career catches, but has emerged as the go-to deep threat option.
This catch set up Cincy at Houston’s 24 yard line and three plays later Ridder ran it into the endzone from 13 yards out.
2. Marcus Brown sets the tone on defense
Pierce’s catch set the tone and pace for the Bearcats offense, that they were ready to play. On the Cougars’ first possession, they went 5 plays before punting. On third and three, they ran it with Patrick Carr and DT Marcus Brown burst through the OL and made one of his two tackles for a loss, knocking Carr back 2 yards. In hindsight, this play doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but the early stop gave Cincinnati some early momentum to build their lead.
3. Arquon Bush saves a touchdown
Houston defense picked off Ridder on the Bearcats second possession and started their drive on the Cincinnati 16 yard line. They picked up just 6 yards and on third and four, CB Arquon Bush broke up QB Clayton Tune’s pass to top WR Marquez Stevenson.
After the turnover, it forced Houston to settle for a field goal, cutting the Cincinnati lead to 7-3. This allowed the Bearcats to keep momentum and continue to build on a lead.
4. Rashad Medaris to the house
Why was that, seemingly, inconsequential pass deflection by Bush so important? Because it kept the score at 7-3, instead of 7-7. On Bearcats first play after the field goal, Houston had busted coverage and Ridder hit a wide open senior WR Rashad Medaris for a 75 yard touchdown. When I say wide open, I mean the next nearest defender might have been in Dallas.
Medaris had his second career 100 yard receiving game and a career high 121 yards receiving.
5. Ja’Von Hicks’ first interception
Hicks, a sophomore safety, has done as good of a job as can be expected, replacing star safety James Wiggins so far in 2019. Hicks had 2 interceptions in the win, with his first coming in the second quarter. After Cincinnati’s offense went three-and-out, Houston had the ball down just four. Cougars were constantly switching QBs, making it hard to build any consistency on offense. This drive began with Logan Holgorsen at QB, and the coach’s kid threw an interception on the first play of the drive.
Hicks pick set up Cincinnati at the Houston 30 yard line.
6. Tre Tucker’s 12 yard reception
At the end of the first quarter, Cincinnati went three-and-out with three straight hand offs to Gerrid Doaks. It was a bizarre sequence and led to, justifiable, criticism of the offensive coaches and play calling from the twitter mob. The next drive wasn’t much better.
Hicks than picked off Holgorsen and set up Cincinnati on the 30 yard line.
And on the 7th drive of the first half for the Bearcats, showed some life on offense. On first down, Ridder threw a little pitch pass forward to freshman WR Tre Tucker, who picked up 12 yards, down to the Houston 23 yard line. It put the Bearcats in a position to score their third touchdown of the half two plays later (15 yard pass to Josiah Deguara) to give Cincinnati a 21-10 halftime lead.
7. Ja’Von Hicks fumble recovery
In the third quarter, Houston seemed to pick up momentum and Cincinnati seemed to slow down a bit. Houston went 85 yards on their first possession of the half to cut the lead to 21-17. The two teams then exchange punts and Cincinnati got rolling on their second drive of the second half, but stalled and ultimately ended with a blocked field goal.
With momentum on their side, Houston had a chance to take the lead. But on the 4th play of the drive, from their own 30 yard line, LB Joel Dublanko knocked the ball away from Houston runner Terrell Brown and Ja’Von Hicks, who had 3 total takeaways for Cincinnati, recovered the fumble.
That fumble set up Cincinnati for a 7 play touchdown drive to extend their lead to 28-17.
8. Ridder’s first down run (thanks to a penalty)
The aforementioned 7 play touchdown drive, included a long 3rd and 18. Ridder scrambled and decided to keep it himself. He ran 14 yards, but was shoved on his way to stepping out of bounds by a Houston defender which gave Cincinnati an extra 15 yards and an automatic first down.
Had Ridder not converted that first down, it would have been 21-17, with Houston getting the ball back and momentum from a big defensive stand.
9. Sam Crosa’s field goal
Crosa had a field goal blocked earlier in the half, but with the score 28-23 and momentum shifting towards Houston, Cincinnati needed to get points late in the fourth quarter. A 10 play drive, that lasted almost 5 minutes, ended in Crosa hitting a 32 yard field goal to extend the lead to 31-23.
10. Bryan Wright deflection/Perry Young pick six
This is team work at it’s finest. Clayton Tune’s second interception of the game came with Houston on their own 18 yard line. LB Bryan Wright deflected the pass, tipping it high in the air, and fellow LB Perry Young caught the ball at about the 5 yard line, easily walking it into the endzone, officially sealing the deal on the victory.
Young was asked by a fan on twitter to get a pick six and out of the kindness of his heart, he fulfilled the request.
Check out our full recap from Cincinnati’s 38-23 victory over Houston.