More than 38,000 fans watched as the University of Cincinnati football team opened the 2019 season with a 24-14 win over the UCLA Bruins at Nippert Stadium Thursday evening.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder was efficient throughout the night for the Bearcats, despite a late second quarter goal-line interception. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 242 yards to go along with two touchdowns.
UC head coach Luke Fickell said Ridder lost his voice in the second quarter, causing the offense to adjust.
“We had to go to a silent count,” Fickell said. “We had to actually have our guards and center start making all the calls and couldn’t make checks, so there was a lot of other things going on with him. I think the flow of the game made it a little more difficult on him … But all in all, he did a good job managing the game, controlling himself and understanding what we needed to do.”
Junior running back Michael Warren II put his athletic ability on full display, rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts. He also caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown.
The home crowd of 38,032 provided an advantage that Fickell believes gave his team an advantage.
“[The win] wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but I'll tell you this, the prettiest thing in the world were those fans, especially the student section,” Fickell said. “I know I’ve talked about it all week about really being excited about experiencing Nippert Stadium for the first time at night in a really, really hostile-like environment."
The Bearcats struggled to stay away from the penalties however, committing 10 and surrendering 63 yards.
UC finished the game with 417 total yards on offense, while holding UCLA to 218.
The Bruins were led by sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who finished with 156 passing yards and two touchdowns. He was also responsible for two of his team’s four turnovers.
UCLA running back Joshua Kelley, who was listed as the starter coming into the game, was in uniform but did not play.
The Bearcats will be back in action next Saturday, Sept. 7, in Columbus for a battle with No. 5 Ohio State. Kickoff is scheduled for noon on ABC.