CINCINNATI, OHIO — Jerome Ford scored three touchdowns, the defense picked up a trio of interceptions and the University of Cincinnati cruised to a second-half highlighted 42-7 victory over the Murray State Racers.
Cincinnati Improves to 2-0
The Cincinnati Bearcats continued their 2021 college football campaign on Saturday after defeating the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks last week. UC, which currently finds itself in the heat of conference realignment change, rested its hopes for a W on the shoulders of star running ace Jerome Ford.
Ford — the team’s leading ball-carrier — moved the ball for a team high three touchdowns alongside 18 carries for 113 yards. He was aided by Desmond Ridder through the likes of a 14 completion, 243 yard and two touchdown performance. The senior Heisman hopeful made big connections to Tyler Scott and Michael Young Jr. during the course of the game.
Scott, who enters his sophomore season at Nippert, reeled in a team-high four receptions for 74 yards and a TD. Young Jr. — the more experienced of the two — captured three receptions for 67 yards.
The other side of the football made way for a near-perfect performance from the Bearcat secondary. Three guys — Arquon Bush, Ja’von Hicks and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner — produced a single interception. UC also took advantage of the Racers three total fumbles.
“That was really the difference in the first half,” head coach Luke Fickell said. “... We are going to continue to emphasis being aggressive to the football, running, and good things will happen.
Fickell did acknowledge the lackluster offensive performance in the first half (Cincinnati only scored one touchdown through the first two quarters), but continued by adding on his admiration for fighting off the challenges presented.
“In Week 1, we didn’t really have to handle any adversity,” Fickell said. “We kind of came out and played the way we wanted to play. The only way to grow up is to have adversity. The greatest thing that could’ve happened to us was coming in here at halftime 7-7 and seeing what we were made of.
Following through on their coach’s words, Cinci punched the ball into the endzone on five separate occasions in the second half. Ford (obviously) did most of that dirty work with all three of his TD’s coming in the later stages of the match. However, Scott and Payten Singletary also contributed through 15+ yard catch and scores.
On the other side of the football stood a competitive Murray State team led by junior signal caller Preston Rice. Rice, who skipped the majority of the 2021 Spring FCS season, threw 17 completions for 149 yards and three INT’s on Saturday. His apparent struggles throwing the ball were partially salvaged by a rushing touchdown — Murray State’s only of the game.
Cincinnati is set to continue its 2021 non-conference slate next week at Indiana. The Hoosiers currently stand at 1-1 with a win over Idaho and loss to Iowa. That matchup will qualify as UC’s first road game of the year, and more importantly, an early test for the all-important Notre Dame matchup on October 2nd.