The University of Cincinnati (UC) football program opened their 2020 season with a triumphant win against Austin Peay State University with a final score of 55-20.
Nippert Stadium was unlike any regular season football game prior, as the only people in the crowd we’re approved friends and family of the players on the field.
It took the Bearcats just five plays and less than two minutes to score on their first drive of the season. A 22-yard rush by junior running back Charles McClelland, which he fumbled at the end but was recovered by Cincinnati, set up a 29-yard touchdown pass from Desmond Ridder to sophomore wide receiver Tre Tucker for his first touchdown as a Bearcat.
Ridder impressed in the first game of his senior season. He was taken out in the fourth quarter after leading the Bearcats to a 42-6 scoreline, racking up 196 yards and two touchdowns on 13-18 passing, ending his day with a passer rating of 189.8. Ridder also rushed for 57 yards on four attempts.
Over the course of the game, the Cincinnati offense utilized many of their options in the backfield as Doaks, McClelland, Ryan McDonald and University of Alabama transfer Jerome Ford shared a healthy chunk of time lined up with Ridder.
“There’s three-four tailbacks in there that deserve opportunity,” Head Coach Luke Fickell said postgame. “[That] could be a starting tailback in a lot of programs. So, it’s going to be tough to keep them all happy, but Gerrid’s going to be our leader and obviously, we’re going to roll with him.”
Doaks was the star of the day for the Cincinnati offense, garnering 84 yards from scrimmage (20 yards rushing and 64 yards receiving) and scoring a single career game-best 4 touchdowns.
“[I] feel good,” Doaks said postgame. “It means I’m headed in the right direction, just making myself better and this team.”
McClelland, McDonald and Ford finished the day with a combined 93 yards and a touchdown. On the receiving end, sophomore tight-end Josh Whyle had a day with three receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. Four-star recruit Jadon Thompson caught his first collegiate pass for 18 yards.
Cincinnati retook charge on offense after a Governors first drive field goal, consuming much of the remaining time in the first quarter on a methodical drive ending in a goal-line rush touchdown by Gerrid Doaks, his first of the day.
In the second quarter, Ridder tucked the ball and made two 20+ yard (38 and 21-yards respectively) rushes to plate back-to-back goal-line touchdowns for Doaks; who entered halftime with three touchdowns.
The Bearcats went into halftime leading 28-3.
To open the second half, Cincinnati responded to another Governor field goal with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Ridder to Doaks, whose fourth touchdown of the day set the senior just one score away from tying his number of touchdowns all of last season (5).
In the ensuing Governors possession, the Cincinnati defense got their first takeaway of the season via an interception by sophomore cornerback Arquon Bush.
Following his 31-yard return, Jerome Ford rushed in his first career touchdown as a Bearcat to make the score 42-6 entering the fourth quarter.
“He’s been out there,” Fickell said, referring to Ford. “It was great to see him get out there. I know he would like to have 20 carries as well. I think that, at some point in time, both him or Gerrid could see twenty-some carries in a game.”
Ridder was replaced by back-up sophomore quarterback Ben Bryant to start the fourth quarter. Soon after, Bryant split the defense up the middle of the field to run a 40-yard touchdown.
Austin Peay went on to drive the ball down the field with the help of a 49-yard reception by Baniko Harley, setting up a goal-line rushing touchdown for running back CJ Evans.
After a Cincinnati passing touchdown from Bryant to Josh Whyle, Evans gave the Governors their second touchdown of the day breaking loose for a 64-yard score, which would be the last score of the day, resulting in a 55-20 victory for UC.
“[The victory] showed that we’re not a team to mess around with,” Doaks said. “We put in all the work with everything going on this year so far. We’re not here to let people come in here and take [wins] from us. When you come here, it’s going to be a fight.”
Cincinnati will take on #22 ranked Army West Point next week, Saturday, September 26 at Nippert Stadium.