No. 9 Cincinnati edges Tulsa, wins AAC on last-second FG
Cole Smith made a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift No. 9 Cincinnati to a 27-24 victory over visiting Tulsa on Saturday in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
Desmond Ridder, who threw for a touchdown and rushed for another, answered the Golden Hurricane’s tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter by marching the Bearcats down the field. The AAC Offensive Player of the Year induced Tulsa to jump offside on a fourth-and-2 play, allowing Cincinnati to inch closer before Smith drilled the ball between the uprights.
Ridder finished with 269 passing yards and a team-leading 83 rushing yards to help the Bearcats (9-0) avenge a loss to Memphis in the 2019 conference title game.
Alec Pierce had five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown after entering play with just nine receptions for 141 yards and a score in his previous four games.
Jaxon Player blocked a field-goal attempt by Cincinnati to keep it a one-score game with just over six minutes to play. Sam Crawford Jr. reeled in a 54-yard catch and JuanCarlos Santana had a 13-yard score to knot the score at 24 for the Golden Hurricane (6-2).
Tulsa forged a tie at 17 early in the third quarter after Deneric Prince found the end zone from 8 yards out despite the Bearcats having 12 men on the field.
Ridder answered by calling his own number and racing around the right side before extending the ball over the goal line. His 12th rushing touchdown of the season and 22nd career gave Cincinnati a 24-17 lead with 7:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Pierce reeled in a one-handed, 31-yard catch to set up Jerome Ford’s 42-yard run off right tackle to stake the Bearcats to a 7-0 lead midway into the first quarter.
Pierce had a 45-yard catch over the middle later in the quarter to set the stage of Smith’s 25-yard field goal.
Tulsa answered in the second quarter, with Zack Long booting a 43-yard field goal and Corey Taylor II scoring from 10 yards out to tie the game at 10.
Cincinnati responded quickly, with Pierce beating 1-on-1 coverage for a 36-yard touchdown with 3:17 left in the second quarter.
–Field Level Media