Cincinnati Holds Off Memphis, 34-21
Oct. 30, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Brandon Hayes rushed for a 31-yard touchdown with 5:27 remaining to cut the deficit to 27-21, but Cincinnati (6-2, 3-1 American) held off the Tigers' rally for a 34-21 win on Wednesday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Cincinnati came out the aggressors, as quarterback Brendon Kay completed eight-straight completions to move the Bearcats 61 yards on the opening drive of the game. But Memphis' defense clamped down and limited the last three completions to a nine-yard gain. The Bearcats elected to go for it on fourth down and the Tigers stuffed the rush up the middle to take over on downs.
Memphis stopped Cincinnati on their next drive and a Bearcats penalty gave the Tigers possession at the 28-yard line of Cincinnati. The Bearcats forced Memphis into a fourth and inches, but Brandon Hayes rushed it up the middle for an 11-yard gain for the first down. Three plays later, quarterback Paxton Lynch completed a seven-yard pass to Tevin Jones for the score. Jake Elliott's extra-point was good and Memphis took the 7-0 lead.
Cincinnati used a methodical nine-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score at 7-7 early in the second quarter. Kay was 4-for-4 on the drive for 60 yards, but the rushing game produced the touchdown. Quarterback Jordan Luallen took two rushes to gain the final 18 yards on the drive.
The Bearcats took advantage of a fumble by Marquis Warford to grab a 14-7 lead. Jeff Luc forced the fumble, and Zach Edwards pounced on it to give Cincinnati possession at the Tigers' 19-yard line. It took Ralph David Abernathy one carry to cross the goal line for the score, as he rushed for the 19-yard touchdown.
Memphis' defense held tough after Cincinnati took over with the Tigers in the shadow of their end zone. The Bearcats started the drive at the Memphis 13-yard line, but two sacks and an incompletion forced a field goal try. Ricky Hunter sacked Kay on first down, but it was Martin Ifedi's sack on third down that pushed the Bearcats back to the 27. Tony Miliano's field goal try was wide left to send the game to the half with Cincinnati leading 14-7.
After forcing Memphis to a three-and-out to open the second half, Cincinnati marched down the field to take a 21-7 lead. Kay helped the Bearcats convert a key third and seven with a 22-yard pass to Mekale McKay. Tion Green capped the 11 play, 69-yard drive with a two yard rush across the goal line.
The Tigers converted two fourth down conversions to respond with a 12-play, 70-yard drive to climb within 21-14. After Lynch rushed for two yards to convert a fourth down, he completed back-to-back passes to Jones and Alan Cross, for gains of 11 and 16 yards, respectively. Hayes found a running lane and gained 13 yards for another first down. Memphis faced fourth down at the Cincinnati 10, but Lynch rushed up the middle to pick up three yards before ending the scoring drive with a seven yard-pass to Hayes.
Cincinnati drove inside the red zone on the ensuing drive, but Bobby McCain picked off a pass in the endzone for the Tigers first turnover of the game. The Bearcats converted on third down three times on the drive to have the ball at the Memphis four yard line. McCain stepped in front of a pass in the back left corner of the endzone to give the Tigers a chance to tie the game.
But Memphis was unable to tie the game on two possessions after the forced turnover. Cincinnati picked off Lynch at the Memphis 25-yard line and used three plays to take a two possession lead, 27-14. Kay completed the 24-yard touchdown pass to Anthony McClung for the score. Miliano's point after attempt was wide left.
Memphis cut in to the lead once again, with Hayes rushing for a 31-yard touchdown, setting the score at 27-21. Lynch completed his first two attempts on the drive to gain 20 yards, but the Tigers were faced with fourth down and four yards to go at their own 45 yard line. Memphis converted that fourth down for the fourth time on the night, and four plays later, Hayes broke free for the touchdown.
The Bearcats added a late touchdown to set the final score of 34-21. Green rushed from the three to cap the nine-play, 61-yard drive that took 3:54 off the clock. Cincinnati converted on third down two more times to key the scoring drive and finished the night 11-of-17 on third down conversions.
Cincinnati out-gained the Tigers 437-232 on the night. Kay finished 27-of-35 for 321 yards while Abernathy led the rushing attack with 46 yards on 12 carries. Lynch was 17-of-33 for 140 yards for the Tigers. On the ground, Hayes had 17 carries for 76 yards.
The Tigers host UT Martin for homecoming on Saturday, November 9 at 3:30 p.m.