The University of Cincinnati football team dominated the Miami University Redhawks, 52-14 Saturday in the 117th Battle for the Victory Bell.
The victory marks the seventh-consecutive Bearcat win in the oldest non-conference rivalry in college football.
“Obviously [it is] a very good program win,” said Head Coach Butch Jones. “I’d like to congratulate our seniors. We understand what this rivalry is all about.”
The Redhawks opened the game in the no-huddle offense, quickly crossing midfield and scoring its first touchdown via a Zac Dysert-to- Dawan Scott passing play, capping an 80-yd scoring drive. Following a botched snap on the PAT, the Redhawks led 6-0 less than five minutes into the game.
During the first drive of the game, the Bearcat’s defense failed to pressure Dysert, giving him plenty of time to find passing lanes in the Cincinnati defense.
The momentum Miami built on its first drive quickly shifted to the Bearcat side, as senior Camerron Cheatham picked off a Dysert pass and took it to the endzone for the Bearcats’ first pick-six of the season. Following a successful PAT, the Bearcats led 7-6.
“I had an angle, and I just put my head down,” Cheatham said of the 68-yd interception he took to the house. “Coach made a great call to get me in position, and I just had to make the play.”
Miami opened its next drive quickly, gaining two first downs before a Dysert pass was tipped and intercepted by Bearcats senior cornerback Devon Drayne.
The Bearcats quickly capitalized, taking less than three minutes to return to the endzone on a 14-yd pass completion from Legaux to sophomore wide receiver Danny Milligan, for the St. Xavier product’s first-career touchdown.
The offensive mishaps would continue for the Redhawks three plays later when Bearcat junior defensive back Aaron Chenault recovered a Miami fumble, giving MU its third turnover of the quarter.
Despite exceptional field position, the Bearcat offense stalled, and Miliano attempted a 49-yd field goal, but came up several yards short.
“I thought our defense was very opportunistic all night generating turnovers,” Jones said. “We have to do a better job of turning those into touchdowns and not field goals.”
The Redhawks took over, but after a penalty-ridden drive would be forced to punt. The Bearcats took over at its own 48-yd line, and quickly got into Redhawk territory as the first quarter ended.
Legaux started the second quarter on the sideline as junior wide receiver Jordan Luallen came in to offer a different look on the offense. Following two penalties, Legaux returned and led the Bearcats into the redzone. Senior George Winn capped off the drive with a 6-yd touchdown run, giving UC a 21-6 advantage.
Miami’s offense quickly returned to its earlier form, getting two first downs on Dysert passes, but a holding call on third down in UC territory meant another punt for the Redhawks.
UC started its next drive from the 2-yd line, but gained yardage in big chunks as Winn broke a 57-yd run on a dive play. Legaux then piloted the offense to the 2-yd line, but penalties and inaccurate passes plagued the offense, forcing UC to settle for a 24-yd field goal.
“In the first half I made some minor mistakes, and in the second half I calmed down a little bit,” Legaux said. “The ball was just getting away from me, that was a lot of it.”
The Redhawks only needed 1:10 to get back in the endzone thanks to a Dysert TD pass to junior wide receiver Nick Harwell. The Redawks then successfully executed a two-point conversion on a Dysert scramble to get MU to within 10 points.
Legaux and the Bearcat offense got the ball back with 2:05 left before halftime, but were unable to produce as Legaux over-threw several open receivers, offensive players committed penalties and the Bearcats had to punt the ball. Miami had time for one play, but the hail-mary pass was incomplete.
The Bearcats took a 24-14 lead into the locker room.
Ralph David Abernathy IV jump-started the Bearcat offense in the third quarter with a 58-yd kick return, giving the Bearcats the ball at Miami’s 40-yd line.
“I thought in the second half we came out and our players just executed,” Jones said. “Obviously the kickoff return to start the second half really got the momentum going.”
Following Abernathy’s run, Legaux completed a 19-yd pass to junior tight end Travis Kelce, giving UC a 31-14 lead. Following its fourth touchdown, UC’s defense stepped up and forced two incomplete passes before comings up with its second sack of the game, forcing MU to punt.
On the following drive, the Bearcats began to pull away thanks to a 62-yard, 10-play drive that lasted 4:55, and ended in George Winn getting his second touchdown of the evening. The Bearcats led 38-14 with less than nine minutes to go in the third quarter.
Miami’s desperation began to show on the next drive as it went for a long fourth-down conversion, but failed, turning the ball over to UC with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
Following an interception from Bearcat senior linebacker Greg Blair, Jordan Kay came in to relieve Legaux at quarterback, and freshman running back Tion Green —playing in place of Winn — got his first score of the year on a 3-yd rush, which capped a 19-yd drive, and put the Bearcats up 52-14.
That’s when the scoring stopped, as both squads brought in second-string players to finish the game.
“I thought it was great that we got some young running backs some reps,” Jones said. “Now we have some great teaching tools as we continue to develop our football team.”
The Bearcats (4-0, 1-0 Big East) next take on the Fordham University Rams (4-2, 1-1 Patriot League) at Nippert Stadium Saturday October 13th.