No. 4 Cincinnati seemed snug taking part in its first sport in playoff place.
The Bearcats dealt with enterprise of their last street sport of the season Friday, beating East Carolina 35-13 in a quest to keep up a spot among the many prime 4 within the Faculty Soccer Playoff rankings.
“We knew there have been extra issues at stake,” coach Luke Fickell mentioned. “It’s nice when you may have a mature group that you just don’t should go over each little factor. You belief that they’re having fun with it, however they’ve to grasp that to whom a lot is given, a lot is anticipated.”
Desmond Ridder threw two landing passes and Cincinnati (12-0, 8-0 American Athletic Convention, CFP No. 4) accomplished an ideal common season. The Bearcats try to grow to be the primary crew outdoors of a Energy 5 convention to compete within the four-team CFP.
“We acquired one other one and now we have to complete sturdy,” Ridder mentioned.
They’ll be at residence when going through Houston subsequent week within the AAC title sport.
“Put yourselves in place to play for championships, lots of different issues can occur,” Fickell mentioned.
Protection and particular groups helped put the sport away for Cincinnati. Arquon Bush blocked a area objective and Ahmad Gardner returned the ball 60 yards for a fourth-quarter landing to make it 28-6.
“We all the time get the job performed,” Bush mentioned.
Lower than 4 minutes later, Darrian Beavers intercepted a go on the 7:27 mark, however the ensuing possession resulted in Cincinnati’s second turnover contained in the East Carolina 5-yard line.
The Bearcats had 4 journeys into East Carolina territory that resulted in no factors, which let ECU dangle round, however by no means actually threaten.
East Carolina (7-5, 5-3) had a four-game profitable streak snapped.
“You see why they’re in competition for a nationwide championship,” East Carolina coach Mike Houston mentioned of the Bearcats. “I believed our children performed actually, actually arduous. I believed they did many issues properly. … For our younger gamers, it’s a terrific studying expertise.”
Ridder completed 17-for-28 for 301 yards with two interceptions. Alec Pierce caught eight passes for 136 yards. Jerome Ford rushed for 85 yards and a landing.
In a matter of 4 Cincinnati snaps early within the second quarter, the Bearcats went from down 3-0 to up 14-3.
Ridder related with Leonard Taylor on a 44-yard landing play. Cincinnati acquired the ball again and went 58 yards in three performs, with Ridder’s 53-yard throw to Pierce organising Ford for a 2-yard scoring run.
Then Cincinnati drove 88 yards on seven performs with Pierce snagging a 28-yard landing catch.
After constructing a 21-3 lead, Cincinnati botched one other probability on Ford’s fumble on the East Carolina 3 on its last drive of the primary half.
East Carolina closed inside 21-6 after which drove to the Cincinnati 5 early within the fourth quarter. However after a penalty, the Pirates had been able to accept Owen Daffer’s third area objective earlier than Bush disrupted these plans in what appeared like a game-clinching sequence with 11:07 remaining.
The All-America cornerback Gardner grabbed the bouncing ball and was manner out in entrance of the pack for a rating.
“I used to be simply making performs as they got here,” Gardner mentioned. “I wasn’t making an attempt to be a superhero.”
East Carolina’s profitable streak marked its longest string of success in AAC play in its eight seasons as a league member.
Cincinnati additionally went 12-0 within the 2009 common season.
The Pirates, going through their highest-ranked crew since a 27-10 residence loss in 2006 to then-No. 4 West Virginia, had been held to 282 yards of whole offense.
“It additionally exhibits the extent of protection that Cincinnati had,” Houston mentioned. “We thought we might be capable to run it higher, however we couldn’t.”
Holton Ahlers was 19-for-38 for 228 yards, an interception and a 12-yard landing go to Jsi Hatfield.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats wasted quite a few scoring probabilities and that would have haunted them if not for a stellar defensive efficiency. They gave up just one landing and held East Carolina to 54 speeding yards – nearly 120 beneath the Pirates’ season common.
East Carolina: The Pirates, who’ll end in a third-place tie within the AAC with Central Florida and Saturday’s Tulsa-Southern Methodist winner, had been aiming for a uncommon victory towards a Prime 25 crew. With this consequence, the Pirates are 13-63-1 vs. Prime 25 foes. East Carolina outscored its 4 AAC guests within the first quarter by a mixed 27-0 this yr, however its 77 yards of whole offense within the first half Saturday put it in a bind.
TAKE THAT, COACH
Within the second quarter, Ridder handed Bearcats quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli (11,930 yards) because the all-time chief in program historical past in whole yards. Ridder can also be the AAC profession chief in whole yards.
In the meantime, Ford eclipsed the 1,000-yard speeding mark for the season. He’s at 1,056 yards.
Cincinnati wasn’t threatened a lot on this sport, however the bar may be excessive for the Bearcats. It’s arduous to see them climbing after this consequence, although the efficiency needs to be sufficient to carry regular.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats didn’t play Houston within the common season.
East Carolina: Awaits a bowl invitation for its first postseason sport since 2014.