The No. 19 University of Cincinnati football team pulled out another close victory Saturday evening at Nippert Stadium, defeating Temple University, 15-13, on senior day.
The Bearcats clinched the American Athletic Conference East division for the first time since joining the conference in 2013.
“Somehow we found a way to win,” UC head coach Luke Fickell said post-game. “It sounds repetitive each and every week, but for the resiliency of this team and a finding a new way to get it done tonight… The special teams again for us made the difference. We didn’t block a punt, but we did force them into a bad snap on the six-yard line. We found a way for the seniors more than anything.”
After the Owls scored their first touchdown of the game on a seven-yard rush by Re’Mahn Davis, UC blocked the extra point attempt, and it was recovered by UC cornerback Coby Bryant, who returned it 98 yards for two points.
It wasn’t the only play special teams made, as Temple punter Will Mobley handled a low snap at the six-yard line in the third quarter while simultaneously having his right knee on the ground with possession of the ball. UC kicker Sam Crosa converted the mishap into a 37-yard field goal.
The Bearcats’ offense accumulated 210 total yards with quarterback Desmond Ridder finishing just 9-of-25 passing attempts for 62 yards and an interception.
UC's defense made up for the lack of offense, as Temple finished 7-of-17 on third downs and 1-of-4 on fourth down, including a 4th-and-1 stop by senior linebacker Perry Young and junior linebacker Ethan Tucky.
“[The defense] just communicates,” Young said. “I had a three second talk to Tucky the play before… He said to forget about responsibility and that he was just going to go. It was 4th-and-1, so let’s be aggressive and do what we have to do. It’s just all communication and belief in one another."
It was a testament to the struggle of Temple’s offense throughout the game. The Owls didn’t make their first trip to the red zone until under eight minutes left in the third quarter.
Russo connected with Kenny Yeboah for a 16-yard touchdown to cut the UC lead to two points with 6:59 left in the game.
Crosa missed a 40-yard field goal attempt minutes later to give Temple the ball back, but UC safety Darrick Forest intercepted Russo to seal the game with just over a minute to go.
Russo led the Owls with 216 passing yards and a score, while Davis added 69 rushing yards.
The Bearcats take on No. 18 University of Memphis for in the regular-season finale next Friday. Kick-off is 3:30 p.m. EST.