No. 4 Bearcats unbeatable, beat East Carolina
Greenville, North Carolina – Desmond Ryder threw two touchdown passes and No. 4 Cincinnati, aiming to maintain his spot among the top four in the football world rankings, had a perfect regular season with a 35-13 win over East Carolina on Saturday.
The Bearcats (12-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference, CFP No. 4) are trying to become the first team outside the Power Five Conference to compete in the four-team CFP.
This result was achieved in large part because of Cincinnati’s defense. As a bonus, Arquon Bush held a field goal and Ahmed Gardner returned the ball 60 yards to land in the fourth quarter to make it 28-6.
Less than four minutes later, Darian Beavers intercepted a pass at the 7:27 mark, but the possession that followed led to Cincinnati’s second spin inside the East Carolina 5-yard line.
East Carolina (7-5, 5-3) had a four-game winning streak in a row.
Ryder finished 17-for-28 for 301 yards with two interceptions. Alec Pierce picked up eight passes for 136 yards. Jerome Ford rushed for 85 yards and landed.
East Carolina closed in within 21-6 and then headed to Cincinnati 5 early in the fourth quarter. But after a penalty kick, the Buccaneers were poised to settle for Owen Daver’s third goal before Bush disrupted those plans in what appeared to be a game-ending sequence with 11:07 remaining.
All-America’s Gardner grabbed the rebound and went out in front of the group to score.
East Carolina’s winning streak marked the longest streak of success playing AAC in its eight seasons as a member of the league.
Cincinnati also went 12-0 in the 2009 regular season.
The Pirates are facing their highest-ranked team since losing 27-10 at home in 2006 to no. 4 West Virginia, were held at 282 yards of total offense.
Holton Ahlers was 19-for-38 for 228 yards, an interception and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jsi Hatfield.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats missed a lot of scoring chances and would have been chasing after them had it not been for an excellent defensive performance. They only gave up one touchdown and stopped East Carolina at 54 rushing yards—nearly 120 yards short of the Buccaneers season average.
East Carolina: The Buccaneers, who will finish in a third-place AAC showdown with Central Florida and the Tulsa Southern Methodist winner on Saturday, were aiming for a rare victory against a top 25 team. With this score, the Buccaneers are 13-63-1 against the top 25 enemies. East Carolina beat its four AAC visitors in the first quarter by 27-0 this year, but 77 yards of a total offense in the first half on Saturday put it in a corner.
Take this, boss
In the second quarter, Ryder passed Bearcats quarterback coach Gino Guidogli (11,930 yards) as the all-time leader in program history in yards. Ridder is also AAC’s career leader in total yards.
Meanwhile, Ford has crossed the 1,000-yard dash mark for the season. It’s 1056 yards away.
The repercussions of the opinion poll
Cincinnati wasn’t much under threat in this game, but the level might be high for the Bearcats. It’s hard to see them climb after such a score, although the performance should be enough for consistency.
Cincinnati: Next Saturday at home against Houston in the Asian Championship match.
East Carolina: Awaiting a pot call for its first post-season game since 2014.
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