October 01, 2022
The Bearcats’ 11 sacks were their most since 2007 and tied an AAC record
TULSA, Okla. – Josh Whyle and Corey Kiner both scored touchdowns on fourth-down plays to lead the Cincinnati football team to a 31-21 victory over Tulsa at H.A. Chapman Stadium on Saturday in the American Athletic Conference opener.
The Bearcats had 11 sacks to tie the AAC record and moved to 4-1 on the season, winning their fourth straight and 17th consecutive over conference opponents.
“They picked this to be a night game, knowing how (the matchup) has been in recent years,” head coach Luke Fickell said. “It was a battle, and it did not disappoint. That’s what it’s like in conference play. When you go on the road, you better be at your best. We were pretty good at playing all three phases of the game.”
Senior quarterback Ben Bryant threw for 166 yards, while Kiner rushed for a career-high 106 and junior linebacker Deshawn Pace secured his first career pick-six.
The Bearcats were 3-for-3 on fourth down, tying for the most conversions since Fickell became the head coach in 2017.
Led by sixth-year senior defensive end Jabari Taylor (3.5 TFLs), the Blackcats defense tallied 15 TFLs and Pace and Ja’Von Hicks each had interceptions. Tulsa quarterback Davis Brin had little time thanks to the Cincinnati pass rush and finished with just 237 yards passing and two picks.
Whyle’s touchdown came on a crucial 4th-and-2 play early in the third quarter. After Tulsa opened the second half with a touchdown drive to cut its deficit to 3, 24-21, UC answered back with a 60-yard run from senior running back Charles McClelland to put the Bearcats inside the Tulsa 10-yard line. On the fourth-and-goal play, quarterback Bryant faked a hand-off, rolled out and found Whyle, who had line up at fullback, wide open to extend the UC lead to 31-21 at 8:37 in the third quarter.
Tulsa’s last chance came via an interception of Bryant with 6:48 left, but an eight-play, 20-yard drive stalled at the 1-yard line as Ivan Pace Jr. broke up the final pass in the endzone to give UC the ball for good at 2:37. The Golden Hurricane even had first-and-goal at the 1.
Kiner turned a 4th-and-1 dive into a 19-yard touchdown dash to stake UC to a 21-7 lead with 6:49 left in the first half. The Cincinnati native and Roger Bacon High School product has opened his UC career with a touchdown in his first five games.
Following Kiner’s score, Tulsa responded. After forcing a UC punt, Brin completed two long passes before Tulsa running back Deneric Prince found the end zone on an 8-yard run to make the score 21-14 at 1:20 in the second quarter.
Cincinnati capped the first half with a lightning quick nine-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal as time expired by senior kicker Ryan Coe and a 24-14 UC advantage at the break.
Deshawn Pace intercepted Brin and ran it back for a score on Tulsa’s third offensive play of the game at 10:23 in the first quarter.
Tulsa responded to tie the game on its next possession with a 14-play drive capped by backup quarterback Braylon Braxton’s 2-yard touchdown run.
UC made the score 14-7 when Bryant found a Tyler Scott for a 61-yard touchdown on the first play of the Bearcats’ third drive of the day.
COURTESY UC SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS