No. 7 Bearcats rally to defeat UCF behind Ridder’s 4 TDs
Quarterback Desmond Ridder passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more and No. 7 Cincinnati held on for a 36-33 road victory over UCF on Saturday in a key American Athletic Conference matchup in Orlando, Fla.
The win kept the Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 AAC) a half-game in front of Tulsa at the top of the conference standings and mathematically erased any title hopes the Knights (5-3, 4-3) were harboring.
Ridder completed 21 of 32 passes with his touchdown throws going to tight ends Josh Whyle and Leonard Taylor. Whyle had another touchdown nullified by an inadvertent whistle.
UCF’s Dillon Gabriel passed for a season-low 243 yards with touchdown passes covering 6 and 19 yards to Marlon Williams and 10 yards to Jaylon Robinson, but the Knights finished with just 359 yards of total offense, far under their national-best 619.1 average entering the game.
Gabriel followed his touchdown pass to Robinson with a pass to Jacob Harris for a 2-point conversion with 4:27 remaining in the game to get the Knights within a field-goal margin, but the Bearcats were able to run out the clock despite a bad snap that gave the Knights one last desperation play.
After falling into an early 14-3 hole, Cincinnati tightened its defense and Ridder rallied the Bearcats to a 19-14 lead with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Whyle and a 3-yard scamper around end sandwiched around Cole Smith’s second field goal.
UCF, which got two first-quarter touchdowns on Greg McRae’s 3-yard run and Williams’ 6-yard reception, closed the gap to 19-17 at the half on Daniel Obarski’s 36-yard field goal with a second left in the period.
The 11-point deficit was the Bearcats’ largest of the season and marked the first game they had trailed since falling behind Army 7-0 early in their second game of the season. They won that one, 24-10.
–Field Level Media