CINCINNATI (AP) – Tulsa’s Steven Anderson fumbled as he reached the goal line in the fourth and goal of 1, Jabari Taylor recovered for a touchback and No.2 Cincinnati held off Tulsa 28-20 on Saturday.
Desmond Ridder threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns, and Alec Peirce had five catches for 113 yards and one touchdown to help the Bearcats (9-0, 5-0 American Athletic) extend the second longest winning streak at home of the country to 25 games.
âWell that was crazy,â said Bearcats coach Luke Fickell. “It’s about winning against a team that is a much better football team than their record shows.”
Shamari Brooks ran 132 yards for Tulsa (3-6, 2-3) and Anthony Watkins added 105.
When Tulsa was stopped short in fourth place in 4, it appeared the Bearcats were going to run out of time. But Ridder fumbled on a stealth, bringing the Golden Hurricane to life.
âThe snap slipped through my hands,â Ridder said. “No excuses. Shout out in defense of saving my ass over there.
Anderson returned it on the play of the fourth and goal of the 1.
âIt’s a tough way to lose,â Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “We are getting the ball back, we have to get it back in the end zone.”
The Bearcats beat Tulsa 27-24 on a last-second field goal in the AAC Championship game last season.
Saturday’s game didn’t look that close as touchdowns from Ridder and Jerome Ford put the Bearcats up 14-0.
The Bearcats had a tough run in the second quarter when Ridder was sacked twice and race leader Jerome Ford was helped with an apparent left leg injury. He didn’t come back.
Brooks ‘8-yard touchdown run capped a 12-play, 75-yard run from Tulsa at the end of the first half and reduced the Bearcats’ lead to 14-9, but the point attempt afterwards was been missed.
Zack Long connected from a 50 yard field goal and Tulsa was down 14-12 at halftime. It was the second straight week the Bearcats led 14-12 at halftime.
Cincinnati beat Tulsa 165-36 in the first quarter, but were outplayed 120-66 in the second.
Ridder and the Bearcats responded with touchdown passes to Pierce and Michael Young Jr. to move forward 28-12.
âComing out at halftime we knew we had to push the ball more and get past the top,â Ridder said.
But Tulsa was not finished.
Davis Brin threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to JuanCarlos Santana and the 2-point conversion to take the Golden Hurricane to 28-20 with eight minutes left. But Tulsa couldn’t hit him in the end.
âWe knew we had our backs to the wall,â said Cincinnati linebacker Darrian Beavers. “It was the critical moment.”
Ford’s injury left a big void in the Bearcats’ offense. He finished with seven carries for 24 yards. Fickell had no update on Ford’s condition, but said he was considering putting him back in the game. âWe talked about it but the confidence wasn’t there,â Fickell said.
When Fickell saw that his players weren’t celebrating the win in the locker room afterwards, he told them about not taking the win for granted and ignoring the emphasis on style points when it came to the playoffs. college football. âDon’t lose sight of what it is,â he said. âSome people can take the joy away from you. I will not do that as a coach.
Take it away
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane relied on rushing play to keep the Bearcats’ powerful offense off the field, rushing for 297 yards. It was the fifth time this season that Tulsa has run for 200 yards or more. âThat’s what they did to us in the championship game, they ran towards us,â said Fickell.
Cincinnati: After relatively close wins over the past two weeks against Navy and Tulane, the Bearcats needed an impressive performance to sway the playoff committee. But Saturday’s performance shouldn’t shake things up. Montgomery said it shouldn’t matter. âWhether you beat a team badly enough or whatever, it’s about finding ways to win,â he said.
Cincinnati is ranked No. 2 for the third straight week. But the Bearcats are more concerned with their No.6 ranking in the top college football playoff standings, which they saw as disrespectful.