CINCINNATI – No. 7 Cincinnati is 7-0 for the first time since 2009 after running away with a 55-17 win over East Carolina in its college football today fixture on Friday night. GAME BOOK (PDF) | PHOTO GALLERY
It was the final home fixture for the Bearcats, who finish the regular season with road games at Central Florida, Temple and Tulsa.
Cincinnati led 35-10 at half after blowing the game wide open with a 28 point free-scoring second quarter. This meant that the Bearcats have now scored at least 28 points in the first half of consecutive games for the first time since 2009, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
In that same season, Cincinnati reached the Sugar Bowl and eventually lost to Florida.
On Friday night, quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 24-of-31 passes for a season-high 327 yards and threw for three touchdowns in the win for the Bearcats (7-0, 5-0 American Athletic). It was the first time he passed for over 300 yards in a game this season.
The redshirt junior, who has has contributed 17 touchdowns in the past four games, including nine rushing TDs, also rushed eight times Friday night for another 75 yards and a score, Cincinnati kept its hopes alive for a College Football Playoff berth.
“Once plays break down and I see a hole, I just go,” Ridder said. “The offensive line has done a great job. The preparation has been good.”
ESPN Stats & Info confirmed that Ridder now has 4 straight games with a passing and rushing touchdown, a feat which tied for the longest streak by a FBS player this season. This also tied for the longest streak by a Cincinnati player over the last 20 years.
Cameron Young rushed for a 75 yards score on the night, Jerome Ford ran for two scores, while Tre Tucker, Michael Young Jr. and Jayshon Jackson each caught a TD pass in the dominating victory for Bearcats, whose defense also enjoyed success at home.
East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers, who passed for 535 yards in this fixture last season, struggled to get going against the Bearcats’ defense this time, throwing for just 87 yards Friday with three interceptions and was sacked four times.
“There was definitely a different feel than last year,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said. “There was only one time he had an opportunity to scramble around. I give the front guys a lot of credit to keep him inside the pocket.”
Fickell hopes his team can ride the current winning momentum in the closing fixtures, which are all on the road.
“We’ll see what we’re really made of,” said Fickell. “It’s going to be quite a stretch with a bullseye on our back. We need to be humble with what we’re doing.”
Keaton Mitchell managed to find a way to rush for 124 yards on 17 carries and touchdown for the Pirates (1-6, 1-5) and Rahjai Harris carried the ball 23 times for 86 yards and a score.
The win saw Cincinnati extending its school-record home winning streak to 19 games, which is the fourth-longest streak among FBS schools.
East Carolina: At Temple on Nov. 21.
Cincinnati: At Central Florida on Nov. 21.