Tyjae Spears rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns and No. 19 Tulane defeated host and No. 24 Cincinnati 27-24 to win the American Athletic Conference regular-season title Friday afternoon.
Spears had his sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing game and eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season as the Green Wave (10-2, 7-1) earned the host spot in the AAC championship game Dec. 3.
Michael Pratt added a 30-yard touchdown pass to Duece Watts that provided the winning points with 5:10 left.
Evan Prater made his first start at quarterback for Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2) in place of injured Ben Bryant. Prater completed 10 of 26 for 102 yards and an interception as the two-time defending conference champion Bearcats saw their 32-game home winning streak end.
Tulane notched the first turnover of the game in the third quarter when Dorian Williams snared a tipped pass from Prater at the Cincinnati 40.
The Green Wave converted a fourth and 3 from the 6 when the Bearcats were called for pass interference. On the next play Spears ran 2 yards for a touchdown and a 20-10 lead.
On the ensuing possession Cincinnati converted a fourth and 1 on its way to Ryan Montgomery’s 8-yard touchdown run that trimmed the lead to 20-17 at the end of the third.
The Bearcats converted two fourth downs on its way to Montgomery’s 15-yard touchdown run that briefly gave them their first lead at 24-20 with 6:27 left.
The Green Wave needed just three plays to set up Pratt’s game-winner to Watts.
Valentino Ambrosio kicked a 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 Tulane lead that held up through the end of the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, Ryan Coe kicked a 28-yard field goal that tied the score.
Spears ran 11 yards for the game’s first touchdown, giving the Green Wave a 10-3 lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Bearcats’ Charles McClelland ran 35 yards for a tying touchdown.
Ambrosio kicked a career-long 47-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to give Tulane a 13-10 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media